(WTNH) — It’s a scene no one could have ever imagined. Elderly people succumbing to a virus, kids losing grandparents in a sudden, confusing way.
“Children really look to the adults in their lives, their caregivers for direction,” says Michelle Dailey of The Cove Center for Grieving Children which has seven locations around the state.
She says parents, even through their own grief, can explain in as concrete terms as possible what the COVID-19 crisis is all about.
“What it means and that the restrictions are universal, actually, and that there are reasons behind keeping people isolated,” she says. “It’s alright for a parent to say to the child, ‘This is really hard on everybody, it’s hard on me, too. I wish that I could also see Grandma or Grandpa.”
The circumstances mean children often can’t say goodbye, missing a valuable chance for closure.
“In the absence of that, there are many ways that parents can help children create a goodbye experience through the use of ritual, through the use, perhaps, of writing a note to the loved one,” says Dailey.
And, in the absence of a funeral, explain that a future memorial service is possible.
“For children, if they have the sense of what the plan is, versus being left with the wide expanse of wondering, it can help them feel they have some structure and parameters around the expectations,” says Dailey.
The Cove invites families to make “gratitude boxes” during dark times.
“In the midst of a crisis, getting touched by gratitude can be so helpful and empowering,” says Dailey.
Through the pandemic, The Cove continues to counsel grieving families in need of help but, of course, due to social distancing, sessions are now through video conferencing rather than in-person.