Michele Benyo is a Certified Grief Recovery Specialist®, parent mentor, and founder of Good Grief Parenting, whose purpose is to support parents who are raising young bereaved siblings after child loss. Her mission is to be a voice for the youngest of grievers and to help parents nurture and understand the unique needs of children who have lost a sibling in early childhood.
When Michele’s six-year-old son died of cancer, her daughter said, "Mommy, half of me is gone." She was just 3 1/2 years old. Even though Michele was teaching early childhood parenting classes and had a Master's in early childhood education, she didn’t know how best to help her daughter. This inspired her to become the support she had needed most during that time so that parents like her wouldn’t have to go it alone.
Michele has spent more than 20 years learning all she can about early childhood sibling loss, its lifelong impact on the surviving sibling, and how parents can help their bereaved child grow up whole and happy. Michele equips parents with tools to help their family heal after child loss, foster hope, and build resilience.
Michele shares her personal grief story. Michele talks about how she grieved a loved one and parented a child, all at the same time. Self-care is a priority, don’t deny your own heartache and grief. Allow your children to see your grief. Our instinct as parents is to protect our children from pain, only to then realize that we cannot do it, but we can teach them how to walk through it. Foster conversations with your children about their feelings and to walk towards hope. Two conflicting emotions can live in the same space: Despair and hope, anger and love. We don’t teach people about grief, that’s the reason why many people do not know what to do with a grieving person, they simply don’t have the tools. As a griever, you get to advocate for the fact that your reality as a family is different. Michele shares what Good Grief Parenting is about. Grief is a series of continuing bonds towards healing. People can also show up for grieving loved ones in beautiful ways. What are your own beliefs about grief? Lean towards the healthier ways to deal with grief. You can’t have the perfect answer, just show up and care, ask: “Do you need something? Is there anything I could do for you right now?”, give them a hug, and talk about the big elephant in the room: someone they love is no longer here. Michele shares tips to approach a child who is grieving: Use the words “died” and “death” when talking about the lost one. Ask them if they want to talk about them and share your feelings with them.
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