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Rick Underwood
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@RickUnderwood

Carolyn,

Thanks for sharing your thoughts and experiences. I agree with all that you have said here.  I think rituals are huge in enabling kids and others to process grief.

In a recent funeral for a mother of a friend, during the time of sharing, her 8-year-old great granddaughter lead in the singing of one of the songs.  The great-granddaughter had sung this song to the great-grandmother the night before she died.

My 11 grandson and 8-year-old granddaughter asked to visit the cemetery where my 98-year-old father in law is buried. They both listened, watched and asked many questions during his funeral. The visit to the cemetery afforded them the opportunity to ask questions and share thoughts and feelings about the loss.

Ironically, my father in law had a sister die when she was 8 and he was 4 years old. Up until the last year of his life, he would talk about the experience of the embalming, wake, and funeral that was held in his home.  When asked about the experience, the theme for him was that nobody explained or talked or listened to him what was going on.

I have facilitated a Family in Transition Program required to attend by family court for all divorcing couples who have children between 5 – 17.  The parents meet separately and the kids meet in age groups with facilitators.  Grief is one of the first topics discussed.  Parents agree that divorce causes much grief for all involved.  When asked what the ritual for this kind of grief, there is no response. I suggest that participating in four hours of small group discussion for the kids normalizes experiences, and gives them permission to share feelings and to not feel alone.

Another issue where rituals are important is in the death of beloved pets.  We created a small pet cemetery in the back year and planted nice shrubs over it. We had very meaningful burials and sharing at the death of several much-beloved pets.  Through the years, the kids could be seen from time to time sitting on the bench next to the memorial plot.

I loved the quote in the article that essentially said, kids need time to pause, reflect, and remember loved ones…

Rick