Talking to Children About the Concept of Death

By: Tom Gallagher
Wednesday, July 27, 2016

It is common to be hesitant about speaking to your children about death. When a family is going through the loss of a loved one, we tend to hide or speak minimally about it to children. We think that by not talking to them about it or talking very little about it will prevent them from being hurt and having to grieve as well. The truth of the matter is that children go through a grieving process just as adults do. The only difference is that they aren’t fully aware of what death means and they don’t realize that their loved one is never coming back to see them.

Children tend to act out or misbehave when they feel defeated or left out. It is important to involve your children in a way that feels comfortable with you and your family, to allow them to heal and move past any separation anxiety they may be experiencing from the deceased.

Here are some important ways to explain the concept of death to your children:

 

Using the correct language

It is important to be as direct and honest as possible with your children when explaining what has happened to their loved one. It is simple to create a “story” as to where their loved has gone, to make it easier on them. Using terms like “Resting” or “Sleeping” may turn out to be harmful to a child. This can create fears with going to sleep at night, thinking they may not wake up in the morning. This conversation is one that should be handled with caution and it is not a situation that should be handled lightly in any way although to avoid any more disruption than the loss has already caused, try to explain to them in a way that uses truth and allows them to take in this information correctly.

 

Being open and honest with your emotions

Children pick up on emotional changes in their home and with the people they are closest with. They will more than likely know that something is not right and it is a sad time in their household. Although it is important to remain calm while you are speaking and spending time with your children, allowing them to see your emotions validates that they are emotional beings and adults feel things too. This not only will benefit them in their adult life, but this also teaches children a lesson of what the value of life and death is. You and your children are both going through a grieving process and the loss of a loved one but handle the situations differently due to a lack of understanding on their part. By allowing yourself to be open with them can create a bond between you and allow you to grieve together with each other’s support

 

Detail, Questions, and Honesty

It is important to remain calm and rational when children ask questions or want to speak about what is going on. Children tend to ask more questions when they feel as if something is being left out. Encourage your children to ask questions that they are curious about and allow them to explore the concept of death in a way that will begin to make sense to them. If you get asked a question that you are unsure of or you don’t want to give them the wrong impression about death, instead of making an answer up, tell them you don’t know and work with them to find out what they think the answer might be. This includes your child in the family and allows them to create an understanding alongside adults.

 

If you have any other questions or would like to speak about this topic further, you can contact, Thomas Gallagher Funeral Homes, here

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