Remembering: Talking to Children about Loss

Remembering: Talking to Children about Loss Picture

Today is my grandmother's birthday. Eleanor Jean Rose was born in 1926. Like many of her generation, she skipped out of high school in her teens to marry and start a family. She gave birth to a daughter and a son. She embraced her days of caring for her family while also working outside the home to meet the needs of her family. In her middle years, she cared for her husband as he battled, and eventually lost his fight to cancer.  In her 50's, she decided to complete her coursework and graduate from high school. Through it all, she sang and whistled each morning and never forgot to laugh.

My memories of her are as my grandmother. With a drawer full of gum, my cousins and I often referred to her as "Grandma Bubble Gum." I also called her "Moemy." She was the grandma who spoiled me rotten each Christmas and who always made the most fun of summer vacations. She was the grandma who made the best peanut butter fudge. Ever.

She made such an impact on me that when I became pregnant and found out a little girl would be in my future, I knew immediately I wanted to name my daughter "Ella," in my grandmother's honor.

Last year, just before Thanksgiving, my grandmother passed away. As a preschooler, it was my daughter's first memorable encounter with death, and with seeing her mother grieve from loss.

Today, we remember. Have you had loss in your life? How do you deal with this loss? How do you help your child cope?

I'm not sure how we'll tackle today. I do know that I work to educate my child about how special her great grandmother was. There is a picture that hangs on my daughter's wall. It was taken during my daughter's infancy and serves as a magical reminder of that love and connection between family, from one generation to another.

How do we keep her memory alive?

In memory of my grandmother, I share pictures with my daughter, the lighting of a candle at church, and a little John Denver music (grandma's favorite). For now, it is an appropriate way of keeping memories alive and celebrating the life of an amazing lady who impacted my life and the life of so many others in our family.

Happy birthday Eleanor Jean Rose. Your memory and legacy lives on.

How do you share, with your children, the memory of those who have had importance in your life?

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Remembering: Talking to Children about Loss

Jeannie Fleming-Gifford is a mama to one little lady, freelance writer, and the director of education for a non-profit community school of the arts. Graduating with a B.A. in Music and a M.A. in Child Development, Jeannie began her career in quality child development programs as a teacher, then moved into creative administrative roles with science centers, symphony orchestras and arts programs. Owner of 170+ year old house, Jeannie loves living in small town America where walks to the park and ... More

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