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Grief counseling for a pre-schooler?

Posted by on Mar. 8, 2013 at 3:28 PM
  • 11 Replies

When I was 18 and a senior in high school I got pregnant. It was shocker but a big life changer. I was 3.5 months pregnant when I graduated high school and ready to be a mommy. A month later when going in for my ultra sound to find the gender I was told my sweet little angel had died. Ultrasound showed her spine had separated from the rest of her body and grown outside, she would never have lived had I carried her to term. I was devestated. Six months later I became pregnant again and had a healthy(ish) pregnancy. She's now 4.5 years old and I have told her about her sister (we found out the sex through genetic testing to determin why I had miscarried) since she was old enough to understand. We have her sister's (EmaLee) baby book and she's allowed to look at the ultrasounds and ask questions whenever she wants. But lately she has not been handling it very well.

Today after school while on the way to our weekly playdate, she burst into tears crying about missing her sister and why couldn't she come home and see her. I've explained to her that she is in Heaven waiting for us and we'll see her when we die and go to Heaven. That was a comfort to her, but now she doesn't grasp the concept that she can't come home with us and why her sister had gone to Heaven. 

If this were your child would you think counseling would help with something like this? She, of course, never met her big sister but says she misses her greatly and cries for lengths of time when she gets upset by seeing other kids with big brothers and sisters.

by on Mar. 8, 2013 at 3:28 PM
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Replies (1-10):
sahmw2010
by on Mar. 8, 2013 at 3:32 PM
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umm, I wouldnt have told my child about a miscarraige. I am sorry for your loss of your first child, but I never would have told my kdis.. at least not until they were older that 4.5

KanPsMommy
by on Mar. 8, 2013 at 3:35 PM

That would have required me to put away photo albums and take pictures off the wall of the pregnancy and ultrasounds. She was very much a part of our family. Just because I didn't get to hold her does not make her any less real to my husband and I. 

Quoting sahmw2010:

umm, I wouldnt have told my child about a miscarraige. I am sorry for your loss of your first child, but I never would have told my kdis.. at least not until they were older that 4.5


weberbaby
by on Mar. 8, 2013 at 3:39 PM
My 5yo daughter just lost a friend and we've been dealing with grief counseling. Try griefshare.org or a local church for support (they often have free or inexpensive counseling). There are also some great books out there. I like "Lifetimes" by Byron Mellonie and "Heaven for Kids" by Randy Alcorn.
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KanPsMommy
by on Mar. 8, 2013 at 3:42 PM

Thank you. She was okay with this until she started  pre-school and saw her class mates with older siblings. I'll definitely look into the books.

Quoting weberbaby:

My 5yo daughter just lost a friend and we've been dealing with grief counseling. Try griefshare.org or a local church for support (they often have free or inexpensive counseling). There are also some great books out there. I like "Lifetimes" by Byron Mellonie and "Heaven for Kids" by Randy Alcorn.


HopesNDreams
by on Mar. 8, 2013 at 3:48 PM
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You have a preschooler far too much information. A simple 'that was another baby in mommy's belly and she isn't with us' would have been enough.

The idea that your four year old now needs grief counseling for a pregnancy lost before she was born is testament to how badly you handled that conversation. Perhaps you all might benefit from some counseling on the issue.
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JoanahLee
by on Mar. 8, 2013 at 3:50 PM

I think the most important thing you can do is be there for her and talk to her.  

Are you comfortable with a memorial or an alter or something special for your daughter to connect to the sister that she never knew?   It could be a nighstand in the corner of her room, or bookshelf in the living room, whatever works, but I would make it something your daughter can reach herself.  When she is feeling sad encourage her to draw a picture for her sister or do something else special and meaningful and place in that special spot.  

It sounds like your families belief system is one that is in line with telling her that her sister can hear her if she wants to talk to her, and can see the nice things she drawn and put on the memorial.  That might be a comfort. 


I think probably some of the reason she is becoming upset is at 4.5 she is most likely on the brink of developing a grasp of abstract concepts, but shes not quite there yet.  She feels a love and emotional attachment to a person she has never met or touched or had any physical interaction with.Maybe you could try to help develop her understanding of loving and feeling a presence of someone/something that is not in the physical world... that might be conversations about god, or distant relatives, or whatever her base for understanding is. 

Just talk to her.  I would not look for professional help unless it becomes an all consuming issue and she is not able to be a happy kid most of the time because of it.  

KanPsMommy
by on Mar. 8, 2013 at 4:01 PM

I told her when she was old enough that she has a sister in Heaven. I explained to her what Heaven was. I did not give her any graphic details. Just that she was sick and couldn't be with us anymore. I should also add that she is a "gifted" child and feels things MUCH stronger than most children her age. When she was told about her sister we did not know she was gifted in that way.

Quoting HopesNDreams:

You have a preschooler far too much information. A simple 'that was another baby in mommy's belly and she isn't with us' would have been enough.

The idea that your four year old now needs grief counseling for a pregnancy lost before she was born is testament to how badly you handled that conversation. Perhaps you all might benefit from some counseling on the issue.


KanPsMommy
by on Mar. 8, 2013 at 4:04 PM

We don't have a memorial at the house, just a framed picture of her first ultrasound and she has a blanket that my DD sleeps with at night. She carried it with her everywhere for the longest time but now she keeps it in her bed. When she's upset its her "go to" for comfort. But with us being in town and just left school she isn't allowed the blanket there.

Quoting JoanahLee:

I think the most important thing you can do is be there for her and talk to her.  

Are you comfortable with a memorial or an alter or something special for your daughter to connect to the sister that she never knew?   It could be a nighstand in the corner of her room, or bookshelf in the living room, whatever works, but I would make it something your daughter can reach herself.  When she is feeling sad encourage her to draw a picture for her sister or do something else special and meaningful and place in that special spot.  

It sounds like your families belief system is one that is in line with telling her that her sister can hear her if she wants to talk to her, and can see the nice things she drawn and put on the memorial.  That might be a comfort. 


I think probably some of the reason she is becoming upset is at 4.5 she is most likely on the brink of developing a grasp of abstract concepts, but shes not quite there yet.  She feels a love and emotional attachment to a person she has never met or touched or had any physical interaction with.Maybe you could try to help develop her understanding of loving and feeling a presence of someone/something that is not in the physical world... that might be conversations about god, or distant relatives, or whatever her base for understanding is. 

Just talk to her.  I would not look for professional help unless it becomes an all consuming issue and she is not able to be a happy kid most of the time because of it.  


mommyofnoah208
by on Mar. 8, 2013 at 4:38 PM
I am so sorry for you loss and how your daughter is dealing with it. My 5 year old knows about his brother in heaven. My son was 2 1/2 when I lost my son during pregnancy. He knows its sad and we have his urn and footprints and stuff, but he doesnt seem overly upset so I dont have any personal advice as to what worked for us. But they do have childrens books about grief and loss. I think one is called, we were going to have a baby but instead got an angel. Next time she is upset I would just tell her its ok to be sad but she is safe and happy in heaven and maybe let her make a little picture to add to her babybook.
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HopesNDreams
by on Mar. 8, 2013 at 5:49 PM
And coming from 2 education degrees and years teaching preschoolers, I am telling that you gave her FAR too much information. SMH

Quoting KanPsMommy:

I told her when she was old enough that she has a sister in Heaven. I explained to her what Heaven was. I did not give her any graphic details. Just that she was sick and couldn't be with us anymore. I should also add that she is a "gifted" child and feels things MUCH stronger than most children her age. When she was told about her sister we did not know she was gifted in that way.

Quoting HopesNDreams:

You have a preschooler far too much information. A simple 'that was another baby in mommy's belly and she isn't with us' would have been enough.



The idea that your four year old now needs grief counseling for a pregnancy lost before she was born is testament to how badly you handled that conversation. Perhaps you all might benefit from some counseling on the issue.


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