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The One Thing to Do For a Grieving Child

Our 6-year-old daughter entered the kitchen still in her nightgown, her head down.

"Guys," she said. "We need to cancel Easter. I don't want to celebrate without BaBop."

And then she walked out.

It has been a little more than a year since my father died, and my daughter is missing him in big and little ways every single day.

I looked at my husband and put down my coffee cup. I caught up to her in the living room and motioned for her to join me in the big, comfy chair. She climbed into my lap and sank into me, burying her face in my chest.

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I held her close and kissed the top of her head. "A holiday can be a really hard time when you are missing someone you love," I told her. "But while BaBop can't be here with us physically, he will always be with us in our hearts and through our memories."

"But I want him to be here."

"I know. Me, too."

"BaBop was silly. He made me laugh."

"He sure did. Do you remember the Easter when he wore those purple bunny ears we have?"

"No, I don't remember that."

"Well, you were pretty young. I have pictures I could show you. Would you like to see them?"

"Yes, please."

"And would you like to get BaBop's memory candle and place it on the table for brunch today?"


And with that, Easter was back on.

We have always been open about feelings in our family. We believe learning to identify, express and cope with emotions is an important skill for our daughter. We work to model that in a positive way and help her develop the skills to work through her own tough feelings.

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I hate that my child has experienced the loss of a loved one so early on. But, it is part of life. I can't shield her. I can only hope the way we are dealing with it will better prepare her for the future losses and adversity she will inevitably face.

And that when those times do come, she knows we will be here for her.

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Image via Elizabeth Flora Ross

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