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Ways to Help Children Deal With Death

by DrLeAnne Deardeuff on October 17, 2014

This is Sokka. He loved to hide in boxes and bags.

This is not what I was going to talk about today. But it came up  so here it comes pouring out. How to you help your children deal with death?

This morning my son ran over his cat on the way to work. He saw that the cat hadn't died yet but needed to be put out of his misery. So he ran into the house grabbed the 22 and shot him. Then he came into the house and dropped to the floor in hysterics. I heard him sobbing and screaming so I  came running and held him and listened to his story. After I held him for several moments, I helped him stand and brought him into my room where I treated him for shock. I gave him Rescue Remedy, a Bach flower that works amazing for shock. I gave him Trauma Life, an essential oil blend from Young Living. Then I  reached for RutaVaLa a strong essential oil blend that calms the nervous system. I could have given him Peace and Calming. I was just giving him what I found in my oil box as fast as I could to calm him down because he was already late for work.  My daughters and I were able to get him calmed down enough that they could go out and give the cat a good burial and clean up the blood in the driveway. Then he left still in tears but I gave him the oils to use as he needed them through the day.

This is not the first time traumatic accidents or death has visited this family. We have lost many animals. We live in a rural setting so hawks, owls, foxes, coyotes, or large vehicles on the roads have taken some of our pets from us many times. We try to keep our loved cats and dogs in the house but they do get out and we have lost them. I think it breaks any mother's heart to see their child, no matter what the ages, sobbing their hearts out. I have learned over the years that this son is particularly sensitive to death especially to cats. He loves cats. I think about my older son and wonder how he will handle it when his dog gets old enough to die. He has had that dog since he was a puppy 13 years ago. They are really attached.

I knelt and prayed this morning after things had settled down somewhat and asked God to be with and comfort my son this day. You know, that is what life is about. We can either let it burn us and make us embittered or we can come unto Christ and get his comfort. So I sent him a text and told him that I was praying for him and that I had asked God to send him comfort this day.

Seven years ago my son Enoch died in his sleep. He had autism and Cerebral Palsy and was prone to seizures. He must have had a fever seizure in the middle of the night and he passed on. That was a sad time for us. Enoch was 11 then and we had given him every waking moment of our lives.  Not only that, but these two sons I have already talked about gave Enoch their nights. He had sleep disorders so they sacrificed their nights being with him so I could sleep and go to work the next day. Enoch was a 24/7 child. It was shocking to have him die. It took us several days to pull out of shock even with the essential oils and Rescue Remedy blend. It took several years to get over the death if we are really over it now. When you love someone and serve someone that deeply it is a hard thing to do.

Many of our friends tried to comfort us, telling us that we should rejoice because we are taught that he is out of the pain in this life and into a more glorious and peaceful spot and with his Savior, Jesus Christ. And though we believed that and even know it to be true, death of a loved one is not easy to handle regardless. We were sad because we missed him so much. But one of the things that I learned from that experience is that grief is a high vibration of love. It is okay to sob until your heart breaks. Because when it breaks, then Christ can come in and fill it with His love.

So what did we do to assist our children through this time? (And as a mother I can tell you it was hard on me having to be strong for my family while my own heart was breaking.) We held our children, we let them talk. Some of my children poured out guilt feelings since sometimes they had been resentful of their brother and the amount of work that he was. Perhaps sometimes they had treated him poorly. It really helped them to know that they could repent from that and ask Christ to forgive them and to ask Him to tell their brother they were sorry for any mistreatment from them. We would then go through a role play for them to act out how they wished they had treated them when they were frustrated or angry with them. That assisted them in letting go of that guilt. We let them sob and we held them and rocked them. We taught them how to come unto Christ even with their sorrows and let Him comfort them.

We involved them as much as we could in the funeral. Some of the children wanted to go with us to dress him. That was indeed a beautiful experience and one that I am glad I did. The children that went with me watched as my husband and I dressed our son for his burial also were glad that they went. They felt such a comforting spirit while they were there. We had them plan the funeral with us. They assisted in who they wanted to hear speak. They choose the Hymns they wanted to sing. They asked their sister-in-law to sing Enoch's favorite song. Little did we know it would cause us to break down every time we heard it; but then, after time it began to build us up. It was "You'll be in my Heart"  from his favorite movie, "Tarzan." (Written and sung by Phil Collins)

After the funeral, some of the kids wanted to kiss him goodbye so they did. We didn't make any of our children kiss him who didn't want to but I will say that those who didn't felt bad years later that they didn't. We took them to the grave site and they watched as the casket was lowered into the earth and then the grave was dedicated. So I guess we involved them as much as they wanted to be involved and didn't force it on them if they didn't want to participate in anything.

For years later, the children wanted to eat Enoch's favorite foods on his birthday and on his death day. They also wanted to watch all his favorite movies. One of the older siblings made a picture memorial book of him and it sits on the glass table next to the couch. Some children were able to look at it immediately. Some of us, it took years before we could pick it up. One of the cousins made a plaque for our wall that reads: "Because someone we loved is in heaven, we feel a little bit of Heaven in our home."  That sits on our mantel next to a picture of him."

But what about pets? Can we do the same for pets? We found that the same things can apply to pets. Always a child will want to know if the pet has gone to heaven. We say yes that we believe in a heaven for all of God's creations even though we aren't sure what that looks like. We found that it helps to wrap the pet in something nice. Something that the child picks then we let them find a place in our yard and bury him with a funeral service. It is just a nice thing to do for the pet and helps the child who loved that pet feel like the served the pet and have closure. Some people go out and get another pet right away for the child but in our family we found that it helped the child to first have a grieving period then when they are ready and ask for another pet, we let them choose another pet.

As I mentioned earlier, it is important to treat your child and yourself for shock. Shock can cause the organs to shut down. It can cause the adrenals and the nervous system to run on high causing physical and emotional problems later in life. We keep Trauma Life Essential Oil blend and Rescue Remedy in the First Aide kit for such emergencies.

What are ways you gave helped your children deal with death? Please comment below.

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