How to Talk to Your Children About DeathSeptember 5, 2014
Talking to a child about death is never an easy conversation and it will always require sensitivity, understanding, open mindedness and active listening. Children, just like adults, do not have an definite answers about death, but we can all learn to accept this reality of life as we move along our individual life paths. If you have young children that are beginning to ask you about death and why it happens, here are a few tips to help you through this rather difficult conversation.
Be Honest And Direct
For the most part, children can tell if you are not telling them the truth about a sensitive and serious topic. They will turn to you for answers and in most cases you won’t have all the answers with regards to the topic of death and passing on. What is important is that you tell your children the truth.
If a child asks you why death happens and you don’t have any idea on how to answer because you too don’t know, tell them that. Kids respect honesty more than anything and if you don’t understand death, let them know. They may not get any closure from you saying that, but they will feel respected, valued and less alone in the fact that they don’t have all the answers.
Be Sensitive To Their Feelings
If Grandpa recently passed away or your child’s pet hamster has passed on, be extremely sensitive. Some parents don’t know how to deal with death themselves so they shrug it off, brush it under the rug and try to forget all about it. Be sensitive to your child’s feeling and spend time letting them talk about how they feel. Acknowledge all of their feelings and thoughts and tell them it is normal to feel grief, pain, anger and sadness when a loved one dies.
Tell Them That Death Is Part Of Our Life Journey
They may have seen death or how others experience sadness over death in films and cartoons, but your words will mean a great deal more. Gently explain to your child that life and death and all the joy in between is how life works. While this may seem a bit dark or harsh for younger children, the more they understand earlier on in life, the less shock they will experience when they are older.
Share Your Own Beliefs About Life After Death
If you believe in reincarnation of the spirit or the reuniting of family and friends in the afterlife, share it with them. Our own personal beliefs can offer some comfort when it comes to speaking about death with children.
Encourage Your Child To Talk It Out
While it is important for you to talk to your child about death and allow them to learn, it is also important to encourage your child to talk about death if it has affected them directly. Children need to express their feelings of loss without judgement and they need to feel as though they can reach out to you for comfort whenever they feel upset.