Helping Your Child Deal With Death

When a loved one dies, children feel and show their grief in different ways. How kids cope with the loss depends on things like their age, how close they felt to the person who died, and the support they receive. Here are some things parents can do to help a child who has lost a loved one: When talking about death, use simple, clear words. To break the news that someone has died, approach your child in a caring way. Use words that are simple and direct. For example, “I have some sad news to tell you. Grandma died today.” Pause to give your child a moment to take in your words. Listen and comfort. Every child reacts differently to learning that a loved one has died. Some kids cry. Some ask questions. Others seem not to react at all. That’s OK. Stay with your child to offer hugs or reassurance. Answer your child’s questions or just be together for a few minutes. Put emotions into words. Encourage kids to say what they’re thinking and feeling in the days, weeks, and months following the loss. Talk about your own feelings: It helps kids be aware of and feel comfortable with theirs. Say things like, “I know you’re feeling very sad. I’m sad, too. We both loved Grandma so much, and she loved us, too.” Tell your child what to expect. If the death of a loved one means changes in your child’s life, head off any worries or fears by explaining what will happen. For example, “Aunt Sara will pick you up from school like Grandma used to.” Or, “I need to stay with Grandpa for a few days. That means you and Dad will be home taking care of each other. But I’ll talk to you every day, and I’ll be back on Sunday.” Talk about funerals and rituals. Allow children to join in rituals like viewings, funerals, or memorial services. Tell your child ahead of time what will happen. For example, “Lots of people who loved Grandma will be there. We will sing, pray, and talk about Grandma’s life. People might cry and hug. People will say things like, ‘I’m sorry for your loss,’ or, ‘My condolences.’ Those are polite and kind things to say to the family at a funeral. We can say, ‘Thank you,’ or, ‘Thanks for coming.’ You can stay near me and hold...
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5 Important Documents to Have In Place Before You Die

It may be difficult to come to terms with the fact that you’ll die someday, but death is inevitable. That’s why it’s important to prepare necessary documents so your family doesn’t end up in a stressful and powerless situation. By designating powers of attorney and heirs, you decide who makes your medical decisions and who receives your belongings. Let’s go over the legal documents you should have in place before you die so that you remain in control. Healthcare Power of Attorney A healthcare power of attorney (POA) is a document appointing someone to make your medical decisions if you’re unable to. This can apply to a variety of situations, such as if you become terminally ill or if you’re temporarily unconscious. It’s important to choose someone you trust, as they’re acting on your behalf for your medical decisions.   There also are several other types of POAs that you can choose to appoint someone as. For a POA to be valid, everyone must sign the document. Depending on your state’s laws, you also may need two or three witnesses to sign as well.   Will A will is a document stating your heirs, or who will receive your belongings and other assets when you die.   There are a few important steps to follow when writing your will. It’s a good idea to consult an estate attorney when writing your will and determining your assets.   Make sure the document is clearly identified as your will and include your name, social security number, birth date, and other important personal information. Also, confirm that you’re 18 years of age or older and are of sound mind when writing your will. Choose an executor, which is the person who will carry out your will when you pass away. Make sure they’re willing to have this position and choose an alternate executor in case the first person is unable to fulfill their duties. Choose your heirs and make sure their names are clearly identified. You may choose primary beneficiaries, such as your spouse and children, along with other heirs. Make sure to check your state’s laws for inheritance. List all your assets, like your real estate and bank accounts, and choose who gets what percent of your total assets. If you have children, you may want to establish a testamentary trust, which appoints a settlor (establisher of trust), a trustee (overseer of...
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Back to School with Grief

It’s August which means many families are preparing for the start of school. When families are also grieving,  this transition can bring a mixture relief, dread, excitement, and trepidation. Much like work for adults, children and teens spend a majority of their time at school, and they take their grief with them. For some children and teens, returning to school is comforting. They find support in the structure, familiarity, connections with friends, and the opportunity to focus on something other than grief. For others though, it can be a challenging venture that brings additional stress, uncertainty, and worry. What to think through and how to help depends on a number of factors. How old is your child and what grade are they in? Who died in their life and what was their relationship? How did the person die? When did the loss occur? There’s no formula for how the answers to these questions affect someone’s grief, but they are important to consider as you sort through how to best support your child or teen in returning to school. No matter our age, we engage with grief on many levels: emotional, physical, cognitive, spiritual, and behavioral. Whether it’s the emotional ups and downs of relating with peers, focusing on schoolwork, or having to talk about family culture and beliefs for a project, school can be a place that connects with multiple facets of grief. If a death or other loss occurred over the summer, returning to school can be extremely charged. Even for those who are familiar with being in school while grieving, each year brings new challenges and milestones to face without the person who died. Transitions can be difficult for anyone, but especially so for those who are grieving. As your family moves from the rhythm of summer to school, children and teens may be worried, irritable, or overwhelmed. You can help with this transition by planning ahead and talking with them about upcoming changes related to bed/wake up times, chores, pick-up/drop-off routines, homework expectations, and after school activities. If your child has first day fears about finding their way around or what their teacher(s) will be like, see if you can arrange a time the week before school starts to take a tour and even meet the staff. Knowing what to expect can be reassuring for both children and teens. One of students’ biggest back to school...
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Grief Counseling: Is It For You?

Processing grief is a process that is unique to each individual. Some experience a large range of emotions when grieving including a sense of meaninglessness, anger, relief, confusion about missing a painful relationship, regret, guilt, sadness and much more. Grieving behaviors are also unique and can include: crying, laughter, talking a lot, not speaking at all, participating more in physical activities like running, and much more. Each person has their own stressors, an event or experience that can cause stress, that can bring their grief to the forefront. For example, hearing a song on the radio that takes you back to a particular memory. If you ever feel like you are not coping with your stressors properly or your grief is getting more difficult to deal with, try reaching out to a grief counselor or a grief support group. If you are not sure if therapy is for you look over the following list. If any of the statements fit you, you might benefit from grief therapy. Do you feel uncomfortable with yourself or find yourself unable to function normally? Do you feel like you have no control over your reactions? Do you wonder if your responses are normal, or if they’ve gone on too long? Do feelings of guilt? Did you feel no grief reaction at all after a major loss? Do you have a history of mental illness, drug or alcohol abuse? Do you have anyone to talk to? Do you feel like suicide is your only option to move over grief? A grief support group is generally a group of individuals who discuss their grief and tell stories about their lost loved ones. If you would like to meet others who understand what you are going through, a support group may be for you.  These groups help those who need to talk about their feelings and find relief in reciprocal sharing. If you give a support group a try, do go to more than one meeting. See if you feel comfortable with the facilitator and the group of mourners in your group. If that particular group is not your fit, it is okay to leave and join another one. If are looking for individual guidance, then grief therapy is your route. You can seek a counselor who will listen and teach you coping mechanisms to handle your grief. It is important to deal with your grief...
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Not Your Standard Funeral

We have all at one point in time heard or been part of the debate, cremation vs burial. But have you heard about a green burial? The purpose of a green or natural burial is to reach complete decomposition of the body, so the land can return to just soil.  To do so only biodegradable materials are used without a concrete burial vault. Not only can a green burial be cheaper, but it also helps reduce the amount of damage we cause to the earth. By choosing a green burial we are helping decrease the number of resources we use for a typical funeral. Every year cemeteries bury over 30 million board feet of hardwood, 17,000 tons of steel and copper in vaults, 90,000 tons of steel in caskets and 1.6 million tons of reinforced concrete in vaults. Green funerals, depending on your area, can be cheaper than a standard funeral because no fancy caskets, concrete vaults or embalming is involved. Some families even supply their own coffin or shroud to further cut down on cost. Another route families choose is to opt out of using a cemetery. Some choose to bury their loved one on their own land. Each state and county have their own regulations for home burial, but it is possible. Even though green burials are becoming more popular, it is important to remember that this option is not completely new. This is the way our ancestors used to bury their loved ones. In fact, some cultures still use “green” methods for their funerals. What do you think, will you go...
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Digital Inheritance: Who Gets Your Facebook Account?

When you visit a financial planner, they help you plan your tangible assets like money, real estate, personal possession, etc. But what happens to digital assets like your online banking information, email and social media accounts? The first thing you should do is make a list of every website and online accounts you have including PayPal, Netflix, Shutterfly and any other websites you visit. Step two: decide how you want each site to be handled after your death. You should decide if your accounts will be deleted, forwarded to a loved one or memorialized, if available. Step three: deciding who should handle your digital affairs. Lastly, make sure to keep your list of accounts in a safe place and make sure it stays updated. If your electronic devices like laptops or phones are locked, make sure at least one person you trust knows the password. If you are unsure what you want to happen to your online accounts, read each site’s policy. Google allows you to set a timeframe of inactivity before your information deletes or is transferred to someone of your choosing. Facebook also allows you to decide what happens to your account. It is important to start to think about how you want your digital presence to handle after your passing because a lot of our personal information is now online. Who do you trust to handle your digital...
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