Tell them it’s not their fault. Even older children can fall prey to magical thinking and feel guilt over somehow causing their mother’s death through their thoughts or behaviours. Reassure them what they did, or didn’t do, had nothing to do with what happened. It’s something they will probably need to hear repeatedly.
Give them lots of reassurance and affection. Younger children will benefit from hugs and reassuring touch. So will older kids, just make sure it’s welcome. Let them know that they will always be loved and cared for.
Share your grief or sadness with them. It lets them know they aren’t alone in their feelings and may make them more comfortable sharing their own emotions.
Encourage creativity. Drawing, colouring, painting, music, writing, sculpture, crafting, dancing and movement, puppets and role play and other non-verbal creative pursuits can be excellent outlets for expressing emotion. They can help children identify their feelings in a low-pressure way. ‘A Handbook for Volunteers: Supporting Children Grieving the Dying and Death of a Loved One’, which is included in your training materials, is filled with creative activities you and the children’s family can do to help them process their emotions.
As part of your Nanny Angel volunteer training, please launch the link and read about ‘Implementing Activities – Benefits of a Creative Approach’ which can be found on pages 22 – 23.
Encouraging creativity also offers you opportunity to explore the children’s current understanding of death and allows you to clarify their understanding around grief and bereavement. NAN’s Child Life Specialist will create a customized care plan with specific goals and skills. It will include suggestions for materials, activities and resources which support the identified goals and skills. Your Nanny Angel Activity Bag can be stocked with materials to help you facilitate creative expression with the children in your care. You can order items free of charge from our Shopify store.