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