Mark Jelacic, a funeral director and father of four, has devoted his career to walking with families in times of grief. “Grief shared is grief diminished,” he says. “This is an old adage but a good one. Let children ask you questions and try to answer them in a supportive, yet simple manner. Honesty works the best; tell them the truth. Tragedies happen, but they need to know their adults, mom and dad, will be there for them.
“They need to know that it is OK to be sad, but to understand that better days are ahead. They get their cues and mimic the adults they look up to and those who lead them through their young lives. Their understanding of loss and the strength they need to cope comes from those adults they look to for support; how we treat them and others in these difficult times will be how they react to difficult times in the future.”
He cautions parents who may want to leave children out, mistakenly thinking they are offering protection. “To put them in a side room is to ignore their feelings and somehow believe that they will not understand the sadness involved,” he says. “If mom and dad are sad, the children are sad. They just may not know why. Their attention spans may not be great, but they tend to focus on the loss, then go back to what they were doing, then come back and focus again on the loss, then go back to what they were doing—a cycle that may happen often during their grief.”
By Annemarie Scobey, from the pages of At Home with Our Faith, Claretian Publications’ print newsletter for parents on nurturing spirituality in the home. Winner of the Best in Class award in 2014 from the Associated Church Press, as well as a First Place General Excellence award from the Catholic Press Association for the past four years running. Here’s a sample issue.
We offer very low rates for parish use, as well as our free Moms’ Night Out monthly discussion guides.
And don’t miss our popular single-page parish handouts on handing on the faith, helping kids understand the Mass, Lent, and Advent.