Teaching Your Children About Death

 Teaching Your Children About Death - family at sunset image

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Death is a difficult concept to learn, and it can be hard to know what to say to your child when you lose a loved one. It is how you approach the topic and explain it that will determine how much your child understands, and here are some helpful tips:

Use Simple, Clear Words

If you have to break the news of a family member to your child, make sure to say it as clearly as possible. If you use words like ‘passed’ or ‘is no longer with us’, the child may not fully understand the implication of your words.

Put Emotions Into Words

Talk about how you feel and encourage your child to do the same. It will help them be aware of the grief they feel and be comfortable that what they are going through is normal.

Tell Them What To Expect

If the death of a loved one will cause a change in your child’s routine, explain to them what they should expect. For example, if they used to visit grandma each Friday after school, let them know that instead, grandpa will visit or an aunt will. Preparing your child for changes in their life will make it easier when the time comes that they would normally be with that person.

Teach Them About Funerals

Your child will want to be involved in the process, so let them come along to meetings with funeral directors, viewings and explain things about the day. Let them know how the day will unfold and what to expect. You can let them know that lots of family and friends will be there to remember grandma, and there will be flowers and music. People might cry, but that’s ok, there’s nothing to worry about. Giving your child fair warning of what to expect will make the day run much more smoothly and enable them to cope.

You May Need To Explain Cremation Or Burial

Watching a body being cremated can be a confusing and traumatic event for a child. They don’t understand the purpose of burning a body. You will need to explain that they are doing it because it will allow you to bring them home. If it’s a burial, explain to your child that this is the final goodbye, but you can visit as often as you like.

After the service you’ll want to explain that the wake will usually be a way for the family and friends to cheer themselves up after an upsetting morning. People might laugh, eat and dance in honour of the deceased.

Give Your Child A Role

One great way to help your child deal with grief is to give them the opportunity to help out with planning the funeral and things on the day. You may let them learn about finance by letting them help you plan cheap funerals, or maybe give them the creative control over the flowers- letting them choose the colour and designs. Small things like these will make your child feel useful and keep them busy.