Save a memento. Consider keeping an item from the recently deceased relative, a token that can be a reminder of that person as your child gets older. A baseball glove, jewelry box, watch, etc.—anything that will represent them to your child will do. You may choose to wait until your child is older to give the item if it is fragile, or it can be something they appreciate as they age. (Learn how to make a memory box with your child here.)
Get help. If you have concerns about how your child is expressing grief, it is important to discuss this with your pediatrician who may recommend a consultation with a mental health professional who specializes in therapeutic work with very young children and their parents.
Maintain your own supports. The loss of a family member, especially your own parent, will be a time of grieving for you. The more you feel supported, the better able you will be to support your toddler. (Click here to join the BabyZone grief and loss community boards.)
Professional tips for families:
- Grieving help from the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization
- Tips on dealing with loss from the National Mental Health Information Center
- Age-by-age conversations about loss for families
- I Miss You: A First Look At Death
- Help Me Say Goodbye: Activities for Helping Kids Cope When a Special Person Dies
- When Dinosaurs Die: A Guide to Understanding Death
This information is intended to be a conversation starting point and not to replace consultation with a mental health professional. Knowing your child the way you do, adjust or edit this script and these recommendations to meet his or her needs and comprehension. If you have concerns about your toddler, contact your pediatrician and request a referral for a mental health professional who specializes in work with young children. Click here to find help for working with your child through this and other touchy topics.