So God Made a Teacher Collection (Sale!) ➔

Children are resilient and I believe many people use this logic to think children will be just fine after something happens. And while they are truly able to overcome so much, it is unfair to assume they will be just fine after a tragedy occurs.  

As a society, I believe we can be dismissive of a child’s mental health. Especially during a pandemic, kids have developed newfound anxieties that really didn’t exist prior to this. The things we used to be able to do freely, we can’t do anymore, or if we do, it comes with more rules.  

So many times, we want to protect our children from the hurts of this world.

Family dynamics have changed over the last century. Children used to live with their extended grandparents, so seeing a sick and dying grandparent wasn’t out of the ordinary. Today, we often don’t live with our grandparents so we have chosen to keep our children away from death. We don’t take our children to funerals because frankly, it is hard to answer difficult questions about death to kids when they can’t always fully grasp the concept.  

My family was not given a choice. My 7-year-old son was admitted to the hospital on a Sunday and died six days later. We did not have time to prepare our 3.5-year-old son that his brother was going to die. We had 12 hours.   

With the help of the child life specialists at the hospital, we told our son that his big brother no longer needed his body. We had to tell our very young son that his brother was going to die and it was the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do. There is no handbook on these types of situations.  

RELATED: Siblings Are the Forgotten Grievers

I didn’t know how to help a grieving child while I was grieving myself. I was looking for books, websites, local organizations, anything I could find to help me try to make sense of this to my son. Statistics say that children don’t understand the permanence of death until they are about 4 1/2 years old.  

I had to surrender and ask for help. We found an amazing play therapist who helped our son process his feelings about his brother’s death. She helped me just as much because she was able to help me differentiate between what was normal and what was not because it all felt abnormal to me.  

My son regressed in some ways after his brother’s death. He used to do most things independently but was unable to do certain things like putting on his own shoes. This is a way that a child grieves.

My son would be playing with toys and out of nowhere say, “Mom, does my brother still have a tongue?” and then go back to playing.

Children grieve in bursts.  

 My son would say, “Mom, I’m not sad that my brother died. I don’t need to cry.” I would say, “That’s OK, son. Everybody shows their sadness in different ways.” Children don’t always cry when they are sad and that is OK.  

My son was absolutely terrified that I would not come back to get him from school. His brother was there one day and gone the next. In his little mind, his brother didn’t come back, and as he’s gotten older, he is starting to realize that I could die or he could die. He has anxiety that was, at times, almost unmanageable. This is another part of a child’s grief.  

My son displayed a lot more anger and explosive behavior. Death brings out big feelings that children don’t understand. In reality, death brings out feelings that adults can’t understand, so it is completely understandable that children would have feelings they don’t understand.   

I have also experienced him overcoming so much. Through so much pain and heartache, he has a renewed sense of life. 

He is back to my care-free, worry-free child, and I get to experience him being a kid again.  

RELATED: I’m Sad But I’m Not Sure How to Show it: What Grief Looks Like For Young Children

Unfortunately, my son realized very early in life, that children die. When we go to the playground, he tells other kids because it is very much a part of who he is. Losing his brother at such a young age has already made him more of an empathetic person. He thinks about others and is not blind to the pain people have. 

If you are parenting a grieving child while you are grieving, I want you to know there is hope. It is not easy, and I don’t wish it upon my worst enemy but, with help, you can come out on the other side.  

Carrie Schmitt

Carrie Schmitt is an advocate for St. Baldricks and sibling loss. She has created a foundation called Love Like Jackson which funds art, music, and play therapy for children whose siblings have died. She is the mother of two boys, one in heaven and one on earth. 

Siblings Are the Forgotten Grievers

In: Grief, Loss, Motherhood
Little boy holding baby, color photo

July 8, 2019 was one of the happiest and proudest days of my life. I had completed my first surrogacy, and it was a match made in heaven. My pregnancy was perfect and the intended mother (IM) and I had formed a beautiful friendship. Our children knew each other and loved each other.  My 7-year-old had been complaining of knee and leg pain and we had been pursuing it and trying to figure out what was wrong. Just six days, after giving birth, we took our son to the ER and our 6-day nightmare began.  Our son was diagnosed with...

Keep Reading

Grief is Hard For Those Who Must Take Care of the Living

In: Grief
Two people walking in distance

Grief is hard for those who must take care of the living. It’s hard for the ones who can’t take a moment to mourn. Grief is hard for those worried about their surviving parent or children or siblings who seem more fragile, more affected, more stricken with the pain of loss. Grief is hard for those who are used to being the strong one who keeps it together in the toughest of times. But while those who carry all the challenging responsibilities of dealing with a death come off as solid and stable and tough, they often feel quite the...

Keep Reading

Grief is Like Crocs

In: Child Loss, Grief
Grief is Like Crocs www.herviewfromhome.com

I have very tiny feet, like I’m almost 30-years-old and I can comfortably wear a women’s 5 ½ or 6. It’s sometimes quite frustrating to find shoes because stores usually only order a few boxes in those sizes so once they’re gone, they’re really gone. I also struggle to find shoes without some Disney character or pop singer on them. My daughter, Sophie, also had tiny feet. She wore her super cute 12-18 month shoes basically from 12 months until she died at two-and-a-half. Her FAVORITE shoes were her navy Crocs. Whenever we were leaving the house, the Crocs had...

Keep Reading

Get our FREE phone wallpaper to encourage you as the new school year begins

It's bittersweet for a mother to watch her child grow—but you both are ready to soar.