Smart Talk

Smart Talk is a daily, live, interactive program featuring conversations with newsmakers and experts in a variety of fields and exploring a wide range of issues and ideas, including the economy, politics, health care, education, culture, and the environment.  Smart Talk airs live every week day at 9 a.m. on WITF’s 89.5 and 93.3.

Listen to Smart Talk live online from 9-10 a.m. weekdays and at 7 p.m. (Repeat of 9 a.m. program)

Host: Scott LaMar

Smart Talk: Children and grief

Written by Scott LaMar, Smart Talk Host/Executive Producer | Jun 17, 2014 1:54 PM

What to look for on Smart Talk Wednesday, June 18, 2014:

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One in five children will experience the death of someone close to them before they graduate high school.  Adults often don't know how to talk about or what to say to other adults about death.  Communicating with children about dying and their feelings of sadness, confusion, and loss is even more difficult.

Most of the time it's because the adult wants to protect the child, thinking it may frighten the child.  But is that the right way to go?

Wednesday's Smart Talk spotlights children and grief.

We'll answer questions like how the grief of a child is different than an adult's, at what age should children be told about a death, should children attend funerals, and when grief isn't normal.

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Joan McGeary and Allison Mahon

Appearing on the program are Joan McGeary, a Child Life Specialist at Penn State Hershey Children's Hospital and Allison Mahon, Program Coordinator at Drew's Hope.

The conversation continues Monday night as WITF presents "I'm Here with You: A Community Forum on Children and Grief."  The forum is designed to help teachers, families, and caregivers support children and understand their grief process.

For more information regarding support programs for children in grief:

Drew's Hope

Highmark Caring Place

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  • Radio Smart Talk img 2014-06-18 08:47

    One listener emails:

    She asks "where is my mommy?" My 36 yo daughter died unexpectedly last year and left behind her daughter and husband. Briefly, she has been told her mommy 's heart stopped, is not coming back and we all miss her. However, I am at a loss for an answer when she asks me, her grandmother, "where is my mommy." This question came up after she saw a dead bird on the sidewalk and was again told the bird's heart stopped. It is very difficult because I can barely get any kind of answer out.

    Any suggestions are appreciated

    • Robert D Colgan img 2014-06-21 20:35

      My adopted son's mother died in a car crash.
      Before we adopted him he lived with his mother's parents.....they told him his mother had gone to Heaven, a concept he didn't understand, because he asked me when she was coming back from Heaven.
      He was five years old.
      I told him she had been in a car accident and she had died, and that she wouldn't be coming back, but she would always be looking out for him because that's what mommies and daddies always do.
      I told him this as honestly and kindly as I could.

      He was not shocked, or upset. Seemed relieved to know the reality.
      I have found that children have a very clear understanding of death....of the truth that living things die, and there is a natural sequence in it.
      You have to know the child, the timing has to be when the child is receptive to the information----usually they ask-----and don't equivocate or add unnecessary details. Tell them the truth in simple unadorned language. Be clear, and be gentle. And make sure they know that love is not being withdrawn from them-----children are narcissists and need affirmation of their self-worth, need to know they are loved.