December 27, 2012

Returning to Routine After a Loss

Kids Path Bereavement Counselor

The return to normal activity (school, sports, after-school activities, etc.) can be challenging for children and teens. The following steps may help ease the transition.

Step 1: Communication with the Child

Engage in a conversation with your child and review the following: What worries or concerns does he or she have about returning to routine? What helps him or her feel safe and secure when grief feelings become overwhelming?  What information does he or she feel comfortable sharing with the other entities in their life (school, sports team, scouts, after-school care, etc.)? Who should share information with these entities? You? The child?

Step 2: Make the Child’s World Safe for Grieving

Work with your child to prepare for the return to routine: How will he or she notify an adult of his or her needs? How will he or she avoid any unnecessary/unwanted attention? How can you help communicate this plan to the adults at your child’s school, daycare, after-school activities, etc…? Help your child identify a comforting, discrete item that they can keep with them like a small stone, a soft toy, or a family picture that brings comfort.

Step 3: Communication with Others

It is important to prepare adults and caregivers who will interact with your child for his or her return to routine. What happened? Share the circumstances surrounding the loss – this information can help the caregiver feel prepared to best support your child. How is your child coping? What triggers his or her “grief bursts”? What helps your child feel safe and secure when grief feelings become overwhelming?

Step 4: Partnering with your School

The school counselor and/or social worker can be an advocate for your child. Contact the teacher(s) who interact with your him or her. They may have prior experience in helping a child return to routine after a loss and be able to offer helpful suggestions. Offer education related to children and grief.