10 POINT GUIDELINES FOR TELLING CHILDREN ABOUT THE LOSS OF OUR BOYS
Our children may have been hearing about our missing boys at school and at home, and have been encouraged to hope and pray for their safe return. It can be difficult to know how to help our children to cope with the news of the loss of our boys; particularly as we work through our own grief.
It is very important to involve the children, and not give them the impression that the adults around them are dealing with terrible things while they are being left out. Remember: knowing about hard things is better than not knowing.
The children need to hear this news from an adult with whom s/he has a close, comfortable relationship. It is best that this talk take place in a familiar setting; home if possible. Even though the tragedy has occurred in a distant place, it is important that the child be informed so that he does not hear bits of information which he can easily misinterpret. If it is comfortable for the child, touch and hold him.
As the parents, you are best placed to decide what is sensible and right for your child, based on your personal knowledge of him and of his age. Whether it is good to expose him to the news or not, but whatever you’re saying- be sincere.
How much kids can understand about death depends largely on their age, life experiences, and personality. But here are a few important points to help you to deal with the breaking news.
- 1. Tell your child/ren the story of our missing boys; from the beginning til the end.
Tell them in a language that they understand, and do not be afraid to include details and to use photos of the boys. Show your child/ren happy pictures and film of our boys and their lives. There is no need to shock them with horrifying details or images.
- Explain the background situation in Israel.
The story begins with a short summary of the conflict. This will provide the reasoning for the circumstances, the kidnapping, the wide search, and finally the discovery of the bodies.
- Explain the story with certainty.
No matter how difficult it is for your child to hear, certainty is better for them than uncertainty.
- 4. Reassurance.
It is also important to emphasis all of our sources of security-
the military forces who are looking after the people there and keeping them safe,
their family and the Jewish people.
Help your child/ren to digest that although these extreme events happen from time to time, Israelis usually live normative, happy lives.
- Your child/ren must know that they can talk to adults about the story, its tragic outcome, and how they personally feel.
- Encourage your child/ren to talk to you about their feelings their sadness and their fears. Give them the words that they will need to use. Give a place to every emotion that arises- fear, sadness, anger, frustration, guilt. Let the children ask any question they like. It will make them feel safe to express themselves and to trust you as an adult to deal with it properly.
- Help your child/ren come up with the things which may help them cope– positive thoughts, and their inner strength . Tell them about the things that helps the people of Israel ans the Jewish people; unity, support and mutual responsibility. Invite them to bring the discussion into their peer group.
- Encourage your child/ren can write what they feel in their personal letter for the bereaved families.
- It is ok for you to cry in front of your children as you tell them about this tragedy.
- You can sit with your children to watch the funerals on TV, and to explain, and discuss what is going on with them. Do not leave them to watch alone.
Rachel Ben Menachem
Psychologist- Children’s Division