One of the most insightful experiences I’ve had was bringing my son to a funeral. He was a fun and caring five year old at the time. His Sunday School’s teacher’s father had passed away . . . my son didn’t even know the deceased.
I hesitated to bring him but thought I would give it a try, and I was glad I did. His teacher was so touched to see Big Brother walk over with a hand-drawn picture for her clutched in his hand. She grabbed him in a hug, with shaking hands accepted his note of love and kept him near her side.
I was surprised at her response. I wasn’t surprised that it was loving, but that it was such a strong response to something seemingly little. She really needed to see that someone loved her and cared for her during the grief she felt for losing her father.
It is very common to feel powerless when a friend loses a loved one. Even harder than that can be figuring out how your family can help. Most kids won’t be able to complete the large tasks that come with a funeral and the logistics of supporting a grieving family, but all kids can show kindness, love, and interest in those that need extra support.
Acts of Kindness Ideas:
- Find ways to express love to those grieving. A phone call or a hand-written card is meaningful and a doable way for your child to reach out.
- If it is a family member that has passed away, involve your child in a small family history project. Collect stories that family members tell during the wake or funeral about the loved one that has passed on. For older children, they can put together a video or a powerpoint that showcases stories or family photos.
- Use your child’s talent to express love. A young girl I know is a whiz at origami. She decided to fold 88 flowers in honor of her great-aunt’s passing and write down on each flower things that she heard about her. It was a great expression of love and effort that meant so much to her family members.
- Music is powerful. All the grandkids in my family learned a song to sing at their great-grandfather’s funeral. It was probably the only two and a half minutes where there wasn’t squirming, kicking, and hollering from that young group, AND it was a meaningful moment for all of those attending the services.
- Small tasks are great for kids. If you are already involved in preparing a meal for the family, invite your child to join in and be part of the cooking. At the lunch after the funeral that Big Brother attended, he put himself in charge of gathering the dirty plates. It was a simple way for him to help out the grieving adults.
- If you don’t live nearby, you can get extra creative by sending a “hug” like Who Arted did or a cheer poster showcasing your child’s crazy and loving antics.
What I have noticed is that the simple act of receiving kindness or witnessing a service act greatly increases the feeling of love and helps those that are grieving. Although kids might not be stepping up to give the eulogy, they can still participate in ways that are helpful and loving.
How have your kids shown love during a time of loss for a friend?