Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Coping with parental loss

Sudden unexpected loss of a loved one is painful and shocking for the family members. While Benazir Bhutto’s three children have to face the added trauma of the violence involved in her death, a parent’s death is a horrifying situation for any child to face.
The adults around face many critical issues too — How to break the news? Young children may need to ‘see’ the truth to come to terms and accept reality. Seeing the parent lying lifeless might help children in the age group of 5 - 12 understand the truth. But they are also extremely vulnerable.

A dead body in an unrecognisable condition can disturb the child. So other caregivers have to refrain from emotional outbursts in front of the child. Attending the funeral might help the child, as it would bring closure to the tragic event. If the death was violent and witnessed by the child, post-traumatic stress symptoms are likely to occur. Family members can talk to the child about the lost parent, share their memories, and see family photos. This will help the child accept the reality and still hold all the good memories