April 16, 2010
All of us probably remember the first person we were close who died. It is difficult to accept the death of a loved one as an adult, but it is especially hard for a child. Children often don’t understand or know how to cope with death – especially if it involves a parent. It becomes even more difficult when adults are dealing with their own grief and don’t know how to reach out to a child.
Earlier this week, I wrote about attending a screening of a Sesame Workshop program, “Talk, Listen, Connect: When Families Grieve.”(Sesame Unveils New Resource for Families) While the Sesame Workshop initiative is aimed at helping children cope, the messages shared by the Muppets on how to handle the death of a loved one are universal. The lessons are also helpful if you are trying to help someone who is grieving.
While the Sesame Workshop cast, including Muppets Elmo, Jesse and Rosita, were in Washington, Elmo visited the Department of Defense Centers of Excellence where the blog team interviewed him. This interview was posted on the DCoE blog page (Sesame Street’s Elmo on Coping With the Death of Uncle Jack).
In the interview, Elmo said he was sad when his Uncle Jack died.
“It took a while for Elmo to realize that his uncle wasn’t going to be around anymore. Elmo didn’t really understand at first,” Elmo said.
Elmo also talked about his cousin Jesse and how she had a problem opening up after her Dad died. Jesse didn’t feel comfortable talking to her mom because she didn’t want to upset her.
It helped Jesse to have Elmo’s dad to talk to, and for Elmo’s dad to take them to baseball games like her father had before he died.
Jesse also shared her memory box with Elmo. A video clip of this scene is included on the DCoE blog. Putting together a memory box is a good idea if you are wondering how to connect to someone who is grieving.
Finally, Elmo admitted that it took him a long time to understand that it was OK to be happy even if Uncle Jack was never coming home.
I hope you’ll take the time to read the Elmo interview and watch the video even if you think you are too old for Sesame Street. You might be surprised by what you learn.
If you like what you see, Sesame Workshop has a Web site dedicated to the topic of grief.