Tag Archive | Death

Divorce or Death: How To Help Grieving Children

Taken from Growing Seasons: How to Help Children Heal from Divorce and Other Losses, a small group curriculum  by Jean Brunson. 

Published by Living Free Ministries. http://store.livingfree.org/Small-Group-Curriculums_c_51.html

Ages and Stages

Infants: Babies believe a person or thing only exists when it is in their field of vision. Grief for an infant is caused by breaking the bond. If bonding is broken in the first two years of life, babies need to quickly bond with someone else. This is essential if they are to establish trust in their world. Infants and toddlers also respond to the emotions of those around them.

Preschoolers: Little children still do not fully understand object permanence. They think death is reversible, like it is on cartoons. This is an age of much magical thinking. They may believe they did something to cause the the loss.

2 Kids Walking on Red Tulip Garden Under Blu Sky

Ages Six to Ten: Early elementary age children are still concrete in their thinking, so it is important not to use euphemisms in explaining death. They understand that death is final but may think of it as a ghost they can outsmart.  After a death or divorce, they feel much sadness but they think they can control it. They need to be encouraged to express it. Boys tend to be more prone to expressing their emotions of anger and acting out while girls seem to show more sorrow.

carefree, child, enjoyment

Eleven to Teenage: Preteens tend to act angry because it seems more acceptable than sadness. They may long to retreat into childhood and look for meaning in the the loss. Any adolescent rebellion that occurred before the loss can cause feelings of guilt. Children this age may have difficulty concentrating in school.

adult, beautiful, blur

Grief from a loss of any kind does impact children. I hope this blog will help some readers who are dealing with a grieving child. Please feel free to ask questions or make comments. I am here to help. However, each situation and each child is different, so any suggestions I might make are only suggestions. They are not to be considered as counseling. Please help me start the conversation.

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How Magical Thinking Impacts Children

Children think differently from adults. Their stories and great imaginations keep us laughing, but their misunderstandings can cause them painful memories that haunt them for a lifetime. Professionals call it “Magical Thinking.” Children believe the world revolves around them. It seems like a good thing. When they hear and believe positive, it is. Since they believe the world revolves around them, they also believe they are responsible for bad things that happen. When there is a loss, such as divorce or the death of someone close to them or a tragic event such as abuse, they may believe it is their fault. That leads to feelings of guilt and shame. Sometimes even simple things can cause those feelings if someone gets angry or blames them.

What can we do? I would love to give you a magic bullet to destroy your child’s negative magical thinking, but no magic bullet exists. I do have an easy way to find out what your child thinks. Ask, but ask with sensitivity. Questions such as: “Who do you believe caused the divorce or death or whatever happened?” Wait for an answer. Then do your best to correct their misconceptions.

What not to say. Never blame another person, especially your child’s other parent. Your child needs the freedom to love their other parent, even if you don’t. In that case, the answer would be “divorce is a grown-up problem.” Also, don’t shame a child for a wrong answer. Just listen.

What About Adults? Adults may still hold on to magical thinking, such as, “I’m going to wash the car, then I know it will rain.” Humorous, but who hasn’t said things like that? Asa counselor, I have heard many sad stories from adults that still blame themselves for things that happened in their youth. Think back to your childhood. Do you remember an event that shaped the way you see yourself and the world? Please share it to help others.

Follow this link to find out how you or your church can minister to small groups of children who don’t live with both biological parents.  http://store.livingfree.org/Small-Group-Curriculums_c_51.htm

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How to Help Overactive Children in a Classroom

Climbing to Keep from Feeling

Climbing to Keep from Feeling

Parents and teachers of an active or inattentive child wonder if the child has Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. There are several reasons a child might exhibit those behaviors, so that diagnosis must be made by a doctor. Changes in the classroom space and routine can help an active or inattentive child. In Growing Seasons divorce recovery and grief recovery groups we have found some ideas that may help you also:

1. Have stretch breaks often and provide opportunities for the children to be active.

2. If the conversation seems too intense, allow the child to leave the group for a few minutes and go to another part of the room.

3. Make the activity more interesting, unusual, and varied.

4. Add visual aids.

5. Place the child close to the facilitator, facing away from other stimuli and separated from the other active children.

6. Be more enthusiastic.

7. Give clear, concise directions using firm, polite voice. Get the children’s attention. Say what you want done, when, and how.

8. Give one direction at a time.

9. Be sure your expectations are appropriate for the child.

Please comment and let us know ideas that have helped a child you know. We would love to hear from parents and teachers, as well.

List taken from Growing Seasons: Helping Children Heal from Divorce and Other Losses.
http://store.livingfree.org/Growing-Seasons-Coordinators-Guide_p_162.html

Picture from Dreamtimefree_200973

Helping Grieving Kids from America to Zimbabwe, Africa

Do the children in Zimbabwe have anything in common with the children in your church? The answer is “Yes.”

Children all over the world grieve and children all over the world need Jesus. Read the following letter from a woman who works in an orphanage in Africa. If Growing Seasons helps children in a Zimbabwe orphanage, don’t you think it could help those children in your congregation, too. Divorce and the death of a parent devastates children all over the world and the love of Jesus introduced to children through the Growing Seasons curriculum can help these children to heal. Read on:

Hi Jean

I hope you are well.

I wanted to give you an update on Growing Seasons in Zimbabwe. I

contacted you at the end of last year for some advice on how to begin

Growing Seasons here.

God has really blessed this ministry and we are now running the second

term with about thirty children.

It was difficult to get the Coordinator’s Guides and Parents Guides

here but we eventually had the books sent to the United Kingdom and

some people who were coming here, brought them back with them.

I was a facilitator myself in the first term and already saw a change

in some of the children by the end of the course. Growing Seasons has

really helped these children and we would like to reach many children

in Zimbabwe.

I went and did a talk for three boarding shools last week and they are

really keen to get Growing Seasons into their schools but asked if we

could possibly train some of their teachers so that they can run it. I

am now feeling led to branch out to the schools and I wanted to ask

you how I could go about this.

You said that you had Workshops there. Would you be able to provide

some material to do Workshops here. There is such a need in the

schools.

I Finally “God” It. You Can, Too

I  accepted Jesus when I was twelve years old, but I didn’t understand what He did for me. In my forties I finally understood the words “grace” and “mercy.” I wonder how many people who have been in church all their lives without seeing the whole picture.Let’s start with creation. Adam and Eve listened to the serpent, Satan, and sinned by disobeying God’s command not to eat the forbidden fruit (Genesis 2:16-17, NKJ). They sewed together fig leaves to cover their shameful nakedness. People today still keep trying to solve their problems without God. God killed an animal to make the skins to cover them(Genesis 3:6-7, NKJ), so He had to shed the blood of the animals. God told the serpent, “And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed, He shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise His heel.”  This was a prophesy. The seed of woman is Jesus, the Son of God. When God brought the Israelites out of Egypt, he set up the sacrificial system using the blood of unblemished animals instead of  people to satisfy God’s requirement for justice. This points us to Jesus.

When Jesus was in the Garden of Gethsemane the night before his death, I believe He felt the shame of the sins of the  entire world. Can you imagine how emotionally painful that must have been? The next day the soldiers pierced Him with a sword, whipped Him, and nailed Him to a cross until He died.  His blood, the blood of the only perfect One, was shed for the forgiveness of our sins. “Without shedding of blood there is no remission.”   (Hebrews 9:22b NKJ) But Jesus did not stay dead. He rose and many people saw Him alive. For those who accept the gift of His forgiveness, He gives us grace, a gift we sinners do not deserve,  and He gives us mercy instead of the eternal punishment we do deserve. He died for us because He loves us enough to pay for our sins. (John 3:16 NJV)Have you told God you believe this? Have you asked Him to forgive you of your sin sand make you His child? If not, now could be the time. Talk to God and tell Him you are sorry for your sins and believe Jesus died for you and will forgive you and make you His child.

You can pray right now to become a member of God’s family.

 

Regrets: Re-think, Release, Relax

 I was part of the sandwich generation, hash to be exact. I took care of my sick mother for sixteen years while my children grew from toddlers to college students. We stopped counting how many times I left my family to take her to the emergency room. She lived with us most of that time, but finally moved to a senior housing facility,which she enjoyed.The Saturday night before she died was just like any other, except it was raining rhinos and elephants.  I knew she didn’t feel well. In fact, I had taken her to the doctor the day before. That still small voice kept telling me to go see her. Instead, I cleaned out a chest of drawers in my guest room. After church the next day, I called to check on her. She was worse. I promised I would take her to the emergency room, but I waited until after dinner. The doctor admitted her. At least fifty times before, I stayed with her until she went to her room, but not this time.  I went home and went to sleep. At five o’clock the next morning the ringing phone jarred me out of bed. The calm female voice said, “Your mother is not breathing. She is in Code Blue. Do you want us to try to resuscitate her?”

Even though she had an advanced directive I said, “Yes, please,” and jumped into my clothes. She died before I arrived. I’ll never forget the way they left her body in that hospital room. With her head thrown back from the attempts to revive her, she looked like an old rag doll tossed aside by a pre-teen girl in search of a boyfriend. I regretted that I couldn’t tell her good-bye.

Five days later we went to Florida on a college visit with my daughter. I  ignored my grief during the day, but at night my mind kept rehearsing the two days before my mother died – the “what if’s”  kept me awake.  I thought, “What if I listened to the still, small voice that told me to go see her on Saturday. If I had gone, she might have lived.” NO!” I was believing a lie. I had to rethink my regrets. I finally concluded that it was my mother’s time to die. God called her home the moment she took her last breath. When her spirit left her body the pain left, too, and God replaced it with joy.

Hebrews 12:1-2 (NIV) speaks about that:                                                          “Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”

I had no power over death or the shame and regret I  felt for ignoring the still, small voice. God took my mother to heaven at the time He appointed for her to die and Jesus took my shame on the cross. When I rethought my regrets, I released the shame, and relaxed. I miss my mother, but I know Jesus has her safely in His arms. I also learned to listen and respond to that still, small voice. Regrets can be a weight that ensnares us. Give them to Jesus and set yourself free to run the race of faith.