WPP 019: Buffy Peters and Sasha Mudlaff from Hamilton's Academy of Grief and Loss with advice for parents on children's grief

One of the things I love to say to children, no matter what their question is, is that is a great question. Thank you for asking that question. Even if my next words are going to be, “I don’t know either.” And it’s okay. It is hard for parents to say “I don’t know” sometimes. But if I am constantly saying, wow, what a great question — I just think it’s keeping that door open so that the child knows they can ask me more questions.
— Sasha Mudlaff, Hamilton's Academy of Grief and Loss
Buffy Peters (left) and Sasha Mudlaff with mascot Hamilton

Buffy Peters (left) and Sasha Mudlaff with mascot Hamilton

Today we’re going to really focus in on the grief piece of the widowed parenting puzzle. It can be really hard for widowed parents to know how to help their children with their grief, because most of us don’t have much experience, nor any education, in this. And so, I’m really glad to share with you today my discussion with  Buffy Peters and Sasha Mudlaff, from Hamilton’s Academy of Grief and Loss in Des Moines, Iowa. Hamilton’s is Iowa’s largest funeral home, and 20 years ago they decided to start providing grief and loss support to their clients and to the broader community as well. And if you’re not in Iowa, not to worry – they have fantastic -- and free -- resources available on their web site. I’ll link to them in the show notes.

I learned so much from talking with Buffy and Sasha. Some topics we covered include:

  • Handling questions from kids, including when you don’t know the answer;

  • The importance of telling kids the truth about tough situations;

  • Language to avoid when talking with kids about death;

  • Secondary losses experienced by kids who have lost a parent;

  • Undue burdens that may unintentionally be placed on kids;

  • Misconceptions that adults may have about children’s grief

  • Why it’s important for kids to see the adults around them grieve, and modeling healthy grieving;

  • How children’s grief differs from adult grief; and

  • Why it’s important for adults to validate kids’ feelings of grief.

I hope you enjoy my discussion with Sasha Mudlaff and Buffy Peters.

Links & resources for this episode

Hamilton’s Academy of Grief and Loss (Des Moines, Iowa) - web site and Facebook page

Printable resources (free):
Avoiding the Cliches of Grief
Children's Understanding of Death - Developmental Stages
Why Adults Must Validate Children's Grief Feelings
Important Considerations of the Grieving Child
Helping Children Express Their Grief
Explaining Death to Children
Explaining Cremation to Children
Children and Change
Assisting Children to Live with Death
Tips for Grieving College Students and Young Adults
Top 10 List for Helping Grieving Children & Teens
Basic Needs of Grieving Teens
Symptoms of Bereavement
General Guidelines for Helping Children Cope with Death
When a Parent Dies
How to Tell if a Grieving Child Needs Extra Help
Effects of Grief
…and many more here.

More links for listeners

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