Children & Loss
Explaining death to children.
It’s never easy. But here are some insights that can help.
- When you discuss this sensitive topic with a child, be clear about your own spiritual attitudes, and try to find out what your child already thinks or believes about death. Don’t be surprised if he or she asks a question you can’t answer. Just say you don’t know, or aren’t sure either. It’s better than making something up that might be confusing or upsetting.
- It may be uncomfortable to let the child see you cry, but it’s actually an opportunity to explain why you feel sad, and reassure them that it’s okay for them to cry as well.
- Try to explain your religious views about death, and what happens afterward. Many parents find comfort in having a member of the clergy take part in a discussion like this.
- Sometimes children think that something they did or said caused the person to die. Reassure them that this is not true, and that feeling sad or angry when a person dies is natural.
- Encourage children to come to the funeral and visit the cemetery, but never force them to go. Seeing the funeral often clears up many of their misconceptions, especially if they take part in the service. You might suggest that they write a letter to the deceased, and place it in the casket. This gives them an important part to play.
- Above all, tell the truth. Children can be surprisingly resilient, and lying to protect them may only cause problems in the future. Don’t explain that the person you lost has “gone to sleep,” or is “taking a long trip.” The fact is, death is final, and trying to minimize its finality can do more harm than good.
If this is an issue for you, please contact us. We can help you be prepared for the questions and concerns that you will surely have to explain. Stop by, and let us help you make the discussion a lot easier.