Helping Children Overcome Grief & How Bo John’s Train Can Help

Tragedy can strike any one of us.  Facing grief and dealing with heartache is difficult for anyone.  Even adults who believe that they must be strong and feel that they have to hold everything together for the sake of their families must surely find it hard also.  It has been my experience that the individuals who seem as though they are holding it all together may need the most support in times of loss.  When are the warriors of the family able to have a time to grieve? Taking the time to fully grieve can only help the healing process.  Each person must grieve in his/her own way, and also in his/her own time.  But ultimately, one must be able to grieve in order to accept the loss and move on to the next phase.  This is never an easy task.  When a loved one departs, it is impossible to just forget about that person and move on.  We all deal with grief in different ways.  The most important thing is to deal with it.

This also holds true for children.  As adults, we must remember that children and precious and sensitive.  They cannot understand death so easily.  During a time of loss, it is up to adults to ensure that children are given special attention and consideration.  We simply cannot expect for them to understand everything that is going on.  Nor can we expect them to just go outside and play while the adults take care of the arrangements.  It is our duty as their caretakers and loved ones to ensure that these children who are affected by grief are made to understand that death is a natural occurrence.  Although we are never really prepared when death visits our family, there are ways to help children understand or at least cope with the emotions that come flooding in.  Being present to answer any questions that children may have is important.  Simply sitting down with children and listening to how they feel will make a world of difference in the life of a child.  Using puppets can also provide success in helping to understand death.  In addition, helping these children cope through the use of literature can also serve as a bridge to understanding how life/death affect us all.

“Bo John’s Train” can help children cope with grief.  Everyone loves a great book!  “Bo John’s Train” is an excellent story that can be used to help children cope with the grieving process.  In the story, Bo John is a beloved character who disappears for a while and this has a tremendous impact on the townspeople whose lives he has touchedQuestions arise as to Bo John’s whereabouts, and this is an excellent opportunity to ask children what they think may have happened to Bo John.  Although Bo John reappears in the story, he eventually leaves again, and the reader is left questioning where exactly Bo John has disappeared to, and when will he return.

Giving children an opportunity to answer open ended questions about Bo John’s whereabouts, allows them to cope with the loss they may be feeling in their own lives.  Grieving is never easy, but it is a process that we all must go through at some point in our lives.  If we have an outlet to help us along in that process, then perhaps we will reach some form of acceptance sooner.  The same is true for children.  WE must provide an outlet that allows for expression.  Through role play, literature, and self-expression we can help children overcome their grief and learn to cope with personal loss.

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