Helping children deal with loss

When a child loses a loved one, many times people just assume that they can handle it easily and get over it because they are young. They forget that children are the biggest victims and suffer the most in the absence of one or both parents.

Grief is the worst thing in a person’s life. It can either bring one down or give them strength to carry on and overcome life’s hardships. We share the story of a young girl who lost her parent and how she dealt with loss and rejection at a very young age.

“When I was about 11 years old my parents separated. I didn’t know it. My mother just told me she was taking me to a boarding school and I was excited but at the same time I wanted to stay with my dad so I didn’t know what to do. She promised that I would come to visit every time we closed school. So we left and went to stay with my mother’s family. Life was good when we had money and all good things from town. When they ended they turned against us,” narrated Lorine.

“My mom then left after a couple of weeks to go and look for a job in Nairobi. I stayed behind with her mom, sister and my cousins. My mother’s sister started stealing my things and she didn’t want me to say anything about it. At some point, things were so bad that they would eat and deny me food which meant that I would have to go to school in the morning hungry and sad. I was sick most of the time because so the climate changes as well,” she said.

While all these things were happening it had not yet dawned on her that her parents were no longer together. These occurrences at home affected her life in school as well.

“So after a year and a half, I refused to go to school and reached out to my father to come for me. When he came and heard what I had been through he broke down and cried. I left and didn’t look back. Neither did I miss that life. My father then started getting sick because of his alcoholism and a year after we had re- united he came back from work and went into a comma on the sofa,”  said Lorine.

Lorine was just 13 years old and didn’t know what was going on as her father just lay there.

“I went over to him and touched his head and asked him if he wanted some porridge. He didn’t talk and just kept on trying to open his eyes. This entire time I thought he was asleep. I made the porridge and fed him,” she narrated.

“After a while, my uncle came home and they realized something was wrong and they took him to the hospital. I didn’t know those were the last days I would see my dad alive. He was put on life support and we had to feed him through a pipe,” she said.

A couple of days later her father died.

“I never used to leave his side in the hospital. But that day I left and to this day  I wish had stayed. At only 13 years old I had seen my father die. I stayed with him through it all. Those pictures refuse to leave my mind to date. I walked into the hospital so innocently not knowing what awaits me and did not even get to his bed. I just remember looking at where he was and I saw his body covered. I only remember screaming ‘daddy’ and when I woke up I found myself at home,” said Lorine.

People assume that children have the easiest time coping with loss but as a child, it is hard. It is the worst experience any child goes through and all one needs to cope is love and understanding.

Unfortunately, Lorine didn’t get that.

“Before we even buried my dad, his family turned against us. They wanted our property and they divided it all among themselves. After the funeral, they threw my mother’s things in the bush and accused her of, killing him,” said Lorine.

“I wish people could be more polite and welcoming to a families experiencing grief.” She added.

Lorine is not the only child who has had to undergo such pain in the face of loss and rejection. There are more children who have suffered the same predicament. Society has so many expectations from children that they forget they are also human with emotions. In order to help children deal with loss, one needs to sit them down and explain to them about death.They should also explain to them the cause of death no matter how bad it is and make them understand that it is okay to mourn someone but still stay strong.

Harsh and wicked treatment to a grieving child only creates hatred and pain in their hearts which one carries with them into adulthood.

In some cases, the children are abandoned and they end up dealing with loss in very harsh ways like indulging in drug and substance abuse which in turn ruins their lives. The bitterness and anger bottled up in them at times often leads them to murder their guardians.

Being loving, polite and welcoming to children experiencing grief could go a long way into helping them cope, grow and post better grades in school.


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