I always find it interesting when people ask about my parents. I’m still young enough that most of my friends haven’t experienced the death of a close relative, especially not a parent and there is still a moment of hesitation when I tell older people that my father has died.
Over the years I have become artful in my response to the “parent question” as many of my friends who have also lost a parent have come to call it. I tailor my answer to the situation I am in and the person I am talking to.
Usually, when someone asks about my parents I reply simply with “my mom lives in Illinois.” However, there are individuals who insist on inquiring, I can see the wheels start to turn in their heads before they respond with an “and your father?” By now I am prepared for it, If I feel up to it I say “he passed away.” Sometimes I’m not feeling up to it though, after 15 years there are still days when I don’t want to talk about my dad’s death, so then I respond with “my mom lives on her own.”
Yes, there are still people who ask more, the people who insist on asking where my father is. I will admit that sometimes my snide, sarcastic wit comes up with “he’s dead, thanks for asking.” or “why do you need to know.” But for the most part, after fifteen years, I answer honestly and shortly. When people insist on knowing more, like how he died or when he died, I politely tell them I don’t want to talk about it, if that is how I feel.
My point in sharing this with you is that children who are grieving will get “the question.” It is best to prepare them in advance. Ask them how much they are comfortable sharing, role playing scenarios where “the question” might come up would also be helpful. Simply a discussion about what the child feels when these questions come up could also be helpful.
When I was young I did not have any friends who had lost a parent, I felt all alone. I have since found some friends who have experienced the death of a parent and feel less alone. It is important to offer grief groups and camps as a way for your child to make friends who have experienced a death if the child wants to experience this.
The National Alliance for Grieving Children has a database of children’s grief programs here:
Or, like I did when I found the program Jen was working in, you can simply google “children’s grief program” and your area to find support.
- Crazy Ideas about Grief (namasteconsultinginc.com)
- Kinds of Grief (namasteconsultinginc.com)
- Labeling Grief A Mental Disorder Sparks Strong Debate (chicago.cbslocal.com)
- Top Ten Things You Should Never Say to a Grieving Mother (fatchickfedup.com)
- What Will You Choose? (ididnotknowwhattosay.wordpress.com)