This is the first in a series on how the approach to supporting grieving children has or hasn’t changed over time. We’ll be talking to people who had parents die in different decades, starting in the 1940’s. We’re hoping to discover how parents, kids, and other adults such as teachers and coaches reacted to children after a death. Did they talk about it? Avoid them? Act like nothing had happened? We know that even today, in 2018, children are often shielded from the truth of someone dying and as a result, left out of the collective grieving process. Sometimes this happens because people think children are too young to understand and a lot of the time it’s because it’s really painful for parents and caregivers to be present with children’s grief.
Today’s guest is Dean Conklin. Dean is one of two volunteers at our program for grieving children and families that started over 30 years ago. That translates into thousands of hours spent listening to and playing with children and teens facing the heartbreak of a parent or sibling’s death.
Dean came to this work like many volunteers, with his own story of loss. In 1945, when Dean was just 8 years old, his father died in a work accident.
Is it grief or typical child or teen behavior? Most parents and caregivers will have this questions at some point in their grieving child's life. Dr. Kitty Huffstutter, LCSW joins us to talk about ways parents and caregivers can best support their child's grief while also setting limits and responding to big behaviors. We explore the idea of a recovery environment, finding the right time and place to problem-solve, and the importance of identifying natural and formal supports for both caregivers and children. Parenting and grief can be extremely hard work and if you're seeking more support in the form of therapy or counseling, please reach out for resources. You can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or contact your county's mental health program. If you or your child is experiencing a mental health crisis, please call 1-800-273-TALK (8255), or text HOME to 741741.
To learn more about Dr. Daniel Siegel's work, check out his website.