Dealing With Death

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Death is hard for young children to understand and even tougher for parents to explain.  It may be difficult to help kids cope, especially if you are dealing with your own grief.

Be honest and explain death in concrete terms.   Explain that the person’s body stopped working and that the doctors couldn’t fix it.  You might say something like “Grandma died because she was very old and sick.  We won’t see her again.”  Avoid saying things like “Grandma went to sleep” or “Grandma went away”, as young children take things very literally and such phrases may leave them afraid to go to sleep or fearful whenever someone leaves.

Don’t be afraid to cry or show your emotions ~ this will teach your children that even adults cry when they are sad.  Encourage questions, but don’t overthink them.  If your child asks where someone who has died is now, he is likely satisfied with hearing that they are in the cemetery.  It’s natural for your child to wonder if he will die too.  When asked, respond honestly, but gently ~ “Everyone dies eventually, but most people live for a very long time, I’m sure you will too.”  Let him know that you will do all you can to take care of him and keep him safe.

Help your child celebrate the life of loved ones.  If Grandma’s favourite cereal was Frosted Flakes, have a bowl of it in her memory!

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