Dear Savvy Auntie,

The 42-year-old father of my precious nephew (age 10) and niece (age 6) by choice, passed away peacefully in his sleep on Sunday from a heart attack. It was sudden and unexpected and all are devastated. I've know the kids' mom and dad for about 18 years. Their mom is one of my best friends.

The funeral was on Friday and I was there for them. The little girl cried in my lap twice. I turn to you as a ABC on how to be there for them. ?? Whatever resources you could provide would be greatly appreciated. Thank you.

Devastated ABC

Dear Devastated ABC,

My sympathies for this sudden tragedy. The fact that your niece cried on your lap tells me me how safe and close she feels with you. Just listen and comfort them! Be prepared for questions about the after life by examining your own beliefs.

Talk to your religious leader, teachers, and others in the community about grieving groups for kids as well as your local library and their pediatrician. I suggest a concrete activity to memorialize their father, such as hunting for a special stone to put next to a tree, planting a bush or a tree, making a photo album with his photos. Most people try to avoid dealing with their feelings, it is more helpful to allow them to emerge. There are many books on this topic, my favorite is "About Dying" by Sara Bonnett Stein.

Remember that mourning takes different forms and different amounts of time.

Best of Luck,
Natalie Robinson Garfield

Homepage photo: olesiabilkei
Published: September 28, 2016

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