For many children, a grandparent’s love is like none other. The security, steadiness, and warmth 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 here at Greenlawn has worked with countless Springfield, Branson, and Bolivar families who find themselves in a state of sadness and shock when a beloved grandparent dies. While the relationship dynamics differ, the void remains 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 death. Here are a few ways to do so:
Create a memory book filled with photos, stories, recipe cards, newspaper clippings, or other memorabilia that will honor a grandparent’s life.
At the same time, it may be tempting to turn to virtual documentation, something special about organizing, assembling, and paging through a handmade book that holds story after story. A hard copy family photo album can become a prized possession for children.
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, which 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 your memories, 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 children’s lives.
Helping children along the grief journey is not easy while you are grieving. For this reason, we encourage you not to forget your grief journey and spend time remembering and honoring them. But in our discussions with the families, spending extra time with a child to talk about a grandparent who died can make a difference. After all, death is confusing for children, but encouraging them to express their feelings will help them develop healthy coping skills.
Please remember we are here to support you in any way we can. With years of experience caring for grieving families, we’ve created numerous connections to local resources and support groups in our community. Don’t hesitate to call us at (417)-833-1111.