Think about how difficult it can be to deal with death as an adult.
Now put yourself in a child’s shoes.
Depending on their mental development, a child can find death very unclear and difficult to understand. Even so, it’s important not to avoid the subject. Children must learn how to deal with grief, too.
Although it won’t be easy, following our five tips below can make explaining death to a child a little bit easier.
#1) Tell the Truth
Kids are strong, even when faced with the topic of death. That’s why it’s best to never lie about what happened to a loved one who has died.
While being as clear and concise as possible, explain the truth about what happened to deceased family members, friends and even pets. Avoid using terms like “long sleep” as that may lead a child to believe that death is only temporary. Instead, use the real name when it comes to sicknesses and causes of death. For example, if someone has cancer, it’s important to say that; otherwise, the child may think anyone who is sick will die.
Oftentimes, children start to worry about who else may die – including yourself. It’s important to never promise that you will never die. Instead, remind your child that although you plan to take care of them for a long time, there will always be someone to love and care for them.
#2) Use Age-Appropriate Language
Death is an unclear topic for many adults – and can be even more challenging for kids to understand.
Think about how new topics are introduced in school, and then apply that learning method to a conversation around death. Use age-appropriate language, refraining from overwhelming the child with too much information at once. And don’t forget to ask if there are any questions.
Feel free to break up the discussion into a few smaller conversations – not only does this help avoid information overload, but it gives you an opportunity to see if your child has grasped the concept from your last discussion.
#3) Answer Their Questions
Kids love to ask questions about anything – and the topic of death is not exempt.
After having your initial conversation with your child about death, there will probably be questions that come up from time to time. It’s important to answer each and everyone to the best of your ability.
Kids are smart, inquisitive beings and you may be surprised at some of the questions you are asked. Just do your best to answer their questions as honestly as possible, being upfront about questions you don’t know the answers to yourself.
Death, Grief and Children
Want more tips on having this difficult discussion with a child? The professional team at Circle of Life Cremation and Burial Centre Inc., can help.