My stepdaughter was placed with us full time June 2013. We got legal full custody of her in November. She turned 5 In January. In February her mother unexpectedly passed away. There are a lot more ugly details to this story that I will leave out. We have explained the best we can that she has gone to heaven and is her angel now. Before for she was cremated we requested a private viewing at the funeral home for my dd to say goodbye to her mother. We also have a portion of her ashes in a small memorial urn kept in our safe for when she is older. But what I have just encountered with her is now she is asking where her mommy is buried so she can take her flowers. How can I explain cremation to a 5 year old with a broken heart? Im struggling daily with trying to be all that she needs. Any advice will be gladly taken.
My sympathies for your family; what a tough situation for all.
Is there a special place that would remind your stepdaughter of her Mother, someplace peaceful and quiet, like a tree or a stream or a field? Or, depending on where you life, a mountain or seaside or someplace with a view? Maybe you can go there, bring flowers, whatever, so she feels like she's going some place to give her Mother a "gift" and so that she can "talk" to her Mother as she needs to? I'm not sure how to explain the cremation- maybe keep it really simple, explain that her Mother's in Heaven, and what's in the urn is what's left and some people bury it, some people keep it near them?
Hi. My kids lost their father at about the same age in a very analogous situation. I got some good advice from the kids grief counselor and also their school psychologist, plus some trial and error of my own. I must preface this by saying that telling my children about the accident was the worst day of my life - to see my daughter shatter at my words....but I do have some advice. Something should come from tragedy, right? Kids do need a place to "find" their loved one. We planted a "daddy tree" - one that stays red all year long. They sometimes talk to it, leave things there, etc... We also did a balloon release where the kids held helium balloons, whispered a message to their lost parent then released the balloon to take the message to them in heaven. Neighbors knew I was doing it and they came over too, along with friends and even the kids teachers. Beyond touching. We all ended up releasing our balloons at the same time, with all our "messages" and it looked beautiful. I was surprised at how uplifting this turned out (I must confess I was a nervous wreck beforehand).
Also, there is a book called "Help Me Say Goodbye" for children that helps them draw out their feelings. For parents I recommend a book on understanding children's grief. If you can spring for a few sessions with a child psychologist, that worked wonders for my younger one. If not, I can tell you that they did a lot of exercises with writing down feelings and also one very good exercise involving a "worry cloud". She had my daughter draw the outline of a cloud and fill it with sad and bad feelings. When my daughter feels too sad or confused about losing her dad she acknowledges the feeling, because it's ok to feel sad/mad when something tragic happens, then brushes the worry cloud away. A "happy cloud" is also filled in as a reminder of all the wonderful feelings and love. Ironically, her dad's urn is tucked away in the attic. It's too sad for her to have it around all the time. But the tree and all of the above things work well. If you want to send me a private message please feel free. Hang in there. You are probably doing better than you think.
Would it make sense to bury the ashes now instead of saving them in the safe? It's comforting to know that the bones and body of our loved ones are part of the earth. With every step we take, they are always there, in memory and in the very earth we walk on. Knowing that her mother is part of the earth might help the child to accept that she is still with her in some way.
I would have buried the ashes if we hadn't moved houses immediately after his death. I agree with you Claudia that burying the ashes in a meaningful or comforting place sounds like a wonderful idea.
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