For many children, a grandparent’s love is like none other. The security, the steadiness, the warmth – that kind of love fosters a connection that cannot be replicated. That kind of love is also why the death of a grandparent can leave a child – no matter their age – feeling stunned and lost.
Our staff at Allen Memorial Home has worked with countless Broome and Tioga County families over the years who find themselves in a state of sadness and shock when a beloved grandparent dies. While the relationship dynamics differ, the void that remains is much the same.
We understand that the grief journey is unique for everyone, including children. We also know how important it is to keep a loved one’s memory alive in the weeks, months, and years after their death. Here are a few ways to do so:
Create a memory book filled with photos, stories, recipe cards, newspaper clippings or any other memorabilia that will honor a grandparent’s life. While it may be tempting to turn to virtual documentation, there is something special about organizing, assembling, and paging through a handmade book that holds story after story. For children especially, a hard copy family photo album can become a prized possession.
Look through family heirlooms and write down their origin and meaning. From jewelry to clothing to dishes to collectibles, a grandparent’s possessions are an irreplaceable and tangible reminder of who they were. If you think an item could help your child know their grandparent better now or in years to come, hold onto it and jot down why it is special to your family.
Spend time enjoying a grandparent’s favorite activities. Whether Grandpa enjoyed fishing, playing cards, or working in the yard . . . Whether Grandma loved to garden, watch her favorite TV shows, or work on puzzles . . . take an opportunity with the kids to honor their grandparents by participating in what they loved doing most.
Make a grandparent’s favorite food. Food creates a multi-generational connection, and that connection deepens by cooking and eating together. If available, add a special touch by using recipe cards in a grandparent’s handwriting.
Celebrate a grandparent’s birthday or the anniversary of their death. Helping a child remember a grandparent doesn’t have to be lavish or grandiose. Rather, talk about them regularly, bring up memories you have, and celebrate how much they meant to you. Remember them on their birthday or the anniversary of their death by visiting their gravesite or special memorial. Give a toast in their honor. Share favorite stories and talk about their impact on your life – and the lives of your children.
Helping children along the grief journey – while you yourself are grieving – is not easy. In our own experience, and in discussions with the families we meet with every day, spending extra time with a child to talk about a grandparent who died can make a world of difference. After all, death is confusing for children, but encouraging them to express their feelings will help in developing healthy coping skills.
Please remember we are here to support you any way we can. With years of experience caring for grieving families, we know the best specialists, resources and support groups our community has to offer. Don’t hesitate to stop by our funeral home in Broome and Tioga County or give us a call.