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Director of the Bereavement Center at Hospice of the Western Reserve, Diane Snyder Cowan, spoke frankly Wednesday about the need for parents to engage in any open discussion to which their children seems to be open.

“Let them take the lead,” said Cowan. “It’s really important to express your feelings and learn how to manage your feelings. So, parents should remain present and available to their kids and they can invite them to talk, they can model appropriate expressions of grief and ways to manage their grief.”

Cowan gives examples of how parents can phrase this.

“They can say, I feel scared, how do you feel when you heard this? Did it make you remember what happen last February? if they were involved in the Chardon event. Because maybe it did trigger something and some children may be afraid to share their feelings because they don’t want to upset mom and dad, or they might be embarrassed by their feelings. So, when the parent invites the child to speak, it’s really helpful and gives permission for the child to share their feelings,” Cowan said.

The Sandy Hook school shooting came too close to the one year anniversary of Chardon’s tragedy. An entire town is still healing from its loss.

Cowan has been helping parents and students in the Chardon School District since the first days of their shooting. She said the need for all parents and children to share their feelings is even more important during the holiday season when family stress over lighter subjects such as what gift to get one another can trigger deeper emotions and polarizing subjects surrounding the recent shootings.

“Parents can have very strong opinions about gun control, or no gun control, or safety in schools, or mental health issues. My suggestion would be to allow the children to speak and to role model healthy expressions of grief,” said Cowan.

Information on Hospice of the Western Reserve and its services can be found online , by calling 1-800-707-8922 or their location at 300 E. 185th Street in Cleveland.

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