When Your Grieving Children Encounter Comforting Myths

The Brights have produced a white paper on how to handle death and grieving in your secular family.  It is particularly useful for those helping secular children process grief.

“It is all but inevitable that children will encounter ideas about death and what happens to the dead that will differ from those of their secular parents.  Such alternative images may be appealing, because they are more dramatic, colorful, or certain than what secular parents have offered.  These may include ideas about heaven, hell, ghosts, reincarnation, and communication with the dead.  It is certainly true that many people have experienced some sense of presence of loved ones who have died; a naturalistic explanation of those sensations need not deny that they can be comforting and healing, or alternatively, frightening.  With older children it is possible to explore both the psychological reasons why people who are grieving might have such sensations, as well as the ways in which unscrupulous others might try to take advantage of them…With younger children, for whom the line between fantasy and reality is more permeable, it may be best to help them identify such concepts as ‘stories’; which can be pleasant to think about, either for themselves or others.  Endorsing the child’s capacity for imaginative comfort does not require the parent to affirm false realities.”

“Dealing with Death in the Secular Family,” Kendyl Gibbons, the-brights.net

If you have or know children who are grieving, how have you helped them interact with the larger world, in which they may be offered appealing falsehoods about death?

About Rebecca Hensler

Rebecca Hensler founded Grief Beyond Belief in 2011, following the death of her infant son Jude. She runs Grief Beyond Belief from her home and continues to write and speak on the topics of grief without faith and secular grief support.

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