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What Guardians Need to Know When a Minor Child Loses a Parent

You said yes, you meant yes, but you never though it would happen.

When your loved one asked you to be her child’s guardian should anything happen to her you agreed. Now that the child’s parents have died in a car crash on Iowa Highway 13, US-30, or another Cedar Rapids road, you are more than willing to care for the child. You would do anything to make this horrific situation easier for the child, but how?

Eight Ways to Help a Child After She Loses Her Parents

As you establish a new normal way of life for the child, yourself, and others in both of your families, it may be important to:

  1. Establish open lines of communication with the child. Let her know she is safe and loved.
  2. Establish a home for the child. If the child is moving in with you, then make sure she has a comfortable space to sleep with her own things.
  3. Establish a routine. Children often thrive when they know what to expect.
  4. Talk to her school. Let teachers and administrators know what has happened and that you are the guardian. Make sure the child has the supports she needs during the day.
  5. Consider counseling. The child has lost so much and may benefit from professional help.
  6. Make sure her legal rights are protected. Talk to the executor of her parents’ estates about wrongful death proceedings.
  7. Accept help. Her friends, her parents’ friends, her relatives, and your relatives should all be part of her support network.
  8. Accept that this will be an ongoing journey and one of the most important things you will ever do. Take it one day at a time and don’t let one setback derail your efforts.

Of course, the exact steps that you take will depend on the child’s age, maturity, and the unique circumstances you both face.

Have you ever been in this situation? What advice would you give someone else who is in it? Please leave a comment on this blog and share your thoughts with others. You may make an important difference in the life of a grieving child and new guardian.

Jason F. Abraham
Managing Partner, Hupy and Abraham
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