• Talking to Children About Death

    Talking to Children About Death

    Talking to children about death can be difficult but is also important. Explaining and discussing difficult topics is pivotal to emotional development. Kids as young as 4 or 5 can have questions about their own mortality and death in general. These questions are often prompted by the death of a friend, relative, or pet. Your child can and should turn to you for guidance in these situations. They’ll ask difficult questions, so it’s best if you can plan ahead and think about what your answers will be.

    If someone close to your child is dying, don’t wait for the moment of their passing to bring up the subject. Explain to your child what is happening from the beginning so they can start processing. Be honest. Many parents attempt to spare their kids the pain of someone’s passing by hiding behind vague generalities like, “Grandma isn’t with us anymore,” or, “The dog is sleeping but forever.” Parents may think they’re saving their kids from a hard truth, but in actuality these types of statements tend to make kids confused. Kids need to understand that death is a permanent and natural part of life.

    A child’s understanding of death is age-specific. Children under 5 typically have trouble grasping the finality of death. As children get older, ages 5 through 9 roughly, they may want to talk about your morality or even their own. Teenagers will often ask technical, philosophical, or even medical
    questions.

    Mourning with Children

    Mourning with children requires balance. You want to give your child room to vent their feelings, but you also can’t have your kids wallowing in sorrow. Sticking to routines they know will help bring them comfort. Most experts suggest that a child not miss more than a week of school
    after a loss in the family.

    Remember that your family is not alone during the grieving process. Local support groups for people who have lost a loved one exist; check your community bulletin boards or search online for these. Meeting kids their own age who are also experiencing a death in the family can make kids dealing with loss feel normal again. They’ll be more likely to let their true feelings out if they can talk with people who know what they’re going though.

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    Losing someone you love is hard, but it’s a natural part of life. Teaching your child how to process loss at a young age will make them able to face these issues successfully throughout their lives.

    Topics: All, Parenting

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