Tuesday, August 9, 2005
Parent to Parent: Death
Death is a topic no one wants to think about. Unfortunately, it is inevitable and for many children, it hits close to home when they lose a parent. Seven's Lynn Martinez joins us with ways to help your child through a loss in tonight's Parent to Parent.
WSVN-- Anger, fear and frustration, these are just some of the emotions experienced by anyone who's ever lost someone. Tonight, Dr. Sally shares some advice on guiding your child through this difficult time.
Meet Laura Nagelberg and her silly, six-year-old son, Sam. Mom and son share plenty of smiles and laughs these days. But three-and-a-half years ago, a tragic accident changed their lives forever.
Parent Laura Nagelberg: "It was just a horrible thing to have to go through."
Sam's dad, Steve, was sideswiped and killed while riding his motorcycle. Laura was devastated, but even more frightening... How would she tell her son?
Laura: "It was hard, I kept thinking I have to tell him cause he's going to start asking where's daddy?"
And with the help of a friend she explained.
Laura: "We told him that his father had been in an accident and that he'd been taken to the hospital and the doctors had tried to fix him, tried to make him better but they couldn't, and that he died."
As hard as it sounds... That's exactly what you should do.
Seven's parenting expert Sally Goldberg says always tell the truth. But begin by mentioning how special their parent was and end by saying how much you love them.
7 News Parenting Expert Dr. Sally Goldberg: "Start off in a positive way, then you lead in to what you're going to say, then you finish up on a positive note."
After you explain, Dr. Sally says make sure to listen to your child. Find out how they feel by asking questions.
7 News Parenting Expert Dr. Sally Goldberg: "It's perfectly fine to use the word death. It's perfectly fine to use the word die or died. The most important thing about using those words is to use them with the right feeling, the right understanding and the right tone."
If your child is very young, try reading them a story related to the concept of death.
If they're between five and eight years old, encourage expression in the form of talking or writing.
And for older children, encourage poetry and other artistic forms of expression.
For parents, be strong, but if you can't help but cry, that's okay too.
Seek out help from extended family and friends or support groups. And try to follow your former routine.
7 News Parenting Expert Dr. Sally Goldberg: "The most important thing that you're doing now, is leading your child away from the crisis and into a new and supportive way of being."
Sam Nagelberg: "This is my dad's baseball."
Sam's room is now filled with his father's pictures and plenty of memories.
Sam: "He rode a motorcycle and he was very fun and he loved to play wrestling."
As for mom, she's trying to start a group to help other young widows.
But together, Sam and his mom are taking life day by day... Some days, sillier then others.
Laura: "I think you find the coping skills that you need, you find the strength within yourself to do whatever you have to do. I'm amazed at what I've accomplished."
Dr. Sally says also remember to focus on the future. There are also bereavement camps for kids, so they can meet other children who have lost loved ones.
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