Feb 1, 1991 - 24 Years Later

It has been 24 years since the death of my father. There have been so many moments of my life that I wish He was here for. I find myself constantly asking if he would be proud of me. I have tried so hard to steer my life in a direction that would honor is memory. I was only two years old when he passed, so my memories of him are very little. But the loss is great. Growing up, I knew he wasn’t going to be there to walk me down the aisle, he wasn’t going to be able to take me to a father daughter dance, or even intimidate the first boy to ask me out on a date.

As the Hold On To Hope Bracelets say “It doesn’t get easier, you get stronger.” I believe in that with my entire heart. A former Miss International actually told me that a year ago when I was discussing my feeling with her, and It really hit the mark! To this day, I still wonder how my life may have been different with him around. But, with that being said, I had a wonderful childhood filled with love and family. My love for him takes nothing away from those who were present in my life.

I am going to share ways to help children cope with the death of a loved one:

  • Use concrete terms when explaining death. Avoid terms such as "passed on" or "went to sleep" Children may not understand that these terms mean the person has "died."
  • Answer their questions about death simply and honestly. Only offer details that they can absorb. Try not to overload them with information.
  • Allow him/her to attend the funeral if he/she wants to but do not force it. Let him/her know what to expect at the funeral.
  • Give the child alternatives for using his grief positively—drawing, other creative means of expression, writing letters, reading or writing poetry, stories.
  • Make sure your child doesn't feel at fault.
  • Give the child choices in what they do or don't do the remember the deceased. Allow the child to participate in the family rituals if he/she wants to—going to the funeral or cemetery, helping plan the ceremony, picking flowers, etc.
  • Allow the child to talk about the deceased, but don’t push them to talk about their feelings.
  • Be aware that children need time to grieve and be upset. Let them know you are available to listen when they are ready to talk. Provide reassurance and validate their feelings when they express them.
  • The family's spiritual beliefs about death should be explained in simple terms. However, the child may not understand the meaning and although he/she can repeat what was said, he/she may not still not comprehend what death means.
  • Children can be fearful about death. Give them a chance to talk about their fears and listen when they express their fears.
  • Be patient. It may take them a long time to recover from their loss.
  • Expect that their grief may recur throughout their childhood or adolescence. Strong reminders, such as the anniversary of a death, a birthday, or a celebration without the loved one may reawaken grief. Be available to talk.
  • Children may even mourn the environment that existed before the death; they grieve the "changed" behavior. It can be helpful to keep to regular routines.

As always, feel free to contact me with questions!

Ignite your spark,

Samantha Riddle
Miss International 2014


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