Tips for Explaining the Concept of Death to Children

By: Myles O'Riordan
Monday, February 8, 2016

Everything has its time, and everything dies. An important part of growing up is realizing and accepting that we have but a limited time on this earth. The problem is, how do you explain this to a small child? If you suffer a loss, be it a grandparent, parent or family friend, your child will have questions about the person sized hole in their life.

Things you need to consider

There are a few factors in deciding how much you should tell your child. Consider how old your child is, how important the deceased was to the child, and how mature the child is before you start explaining death to them. Obviously, you'll know the child better than we do, so you need to trust your own judgment to some extent.

“Even infants and toddlers have the capacity to grieve,” says Linda Goldman, a Maryland-based grief therapist who specializes in children. Children are aware of when those around them are sad, and they are very empathetic. Don't underestimate their intelligence, emotional or otherwise.

Honesty is often the best policy

Young children especially tend to think in literal terms, so telling them that a loved one "went away" or "went to sleep" could accidentally make them afraid to go to sleep or worried whenever someone goes away. At the same time, you need to be careful with how much to share.

Donna Maria Johnson had a very good way of explaining her father's death to Vanessa, then 5, and Brooks, then 3: "when people get very old, their bodies stop working, just like when a toy's batteries run out." Be sure to make sure that they understand that you can't change the batteries, like you can a toy. There are other ways of explaining, like talking about leaves changing color during autumn and winter. Take what you know about the child and use it to best explain the concept.

If you are a religious family, your child may find comfort in being told their loved one is watching over them from the afterlife, and even allow you to share thoughts and ideas with them about the afterlife in a healthy way.

Mourning

A death is shocking for everyone, and emotions run high in the aftermath. Many psychologists extol the virtues of sharing your emotions with loved ones, but where a child is concerned, you need to be careful about over-sharing and distressing the child. Talk to them honestly about your feelings, and listen to theirs, and be sure to remind them of the good times they had with their loved ones. Teach them that what they're feeling is normal, natural and healthy, and how to regulate their emotions safely.

 

Leave a comment
Name*:
Email:
Comment*:
Please enter the numbers and letters you see in the image. Note that the case of the letters entered matters.

Comments

Please wait

Previous Posts

Funeral Etiquette 101

A funeral is essentially a solemn affair, as there are many grieving individuals there. So if you are attending one, this is something you need to keep in view, and the etiquette that you follow sh...

Is Live Streaming the Future of Funeral Services?

Communications technology has advanced considerably over the years. It has infiltrated almost every field, allowing people to work from home, attend online classes, communicate with friends across ...

Funeral Terminology

Funeral terminology can be very confusing if you’re not a part of the industry. Many families struggle to understand them, which can hamper the planning process. At Wagg Funeral Home, we are always...

Cremation Facts - Everything You Need to Know

Cremation is an ancient way of disposing of a body and it is still prevalent in different cultures, particularly in Asia. The rite has become popular in the West in recent years as well. At Wagg Fu...

Building The Perfect Video Memorial For Your Loved One

A video memorial is a good way to highlight the deceased individual's life, personality, achievements, and contribution to society. It can be a beautiful tribute that showcases your love and feelin...

Steps to Take to Pre-Plan Your Funeral Service

Funeral pre-planning has become popular in recent years. People like to idea of maintaining some control over how their funeral and burial is handled. At Wagg Funeral Home, we offer pre-planning se...

How to Help Someone Who Has Lost their Pet?

Pets can be trusted companions and an important part of someone’s support system. Many disabled individuals use service dogs while people dealing with anxiety, depression, or panic disorders rely o...

Financial Benefits of Pre-Planning Your Funeral

Funeral pre-planning has become very popular in recent years because it offers several great advantages. It is the process of recording your funeral requirements and preferences with a funeral home...

What to Expect After the Funeral Service

People often become engrossed in funeral planning, arrangements, and service immediately after a loved one dies. They have tasks like contacting family members, hiring a local funeral home, discuss...

Top Tips on Staying Safe in Public During the Pandemic

Today, it has become increasingly difficult for us to keep ourselves and our families safe from the COVID-19 threat.  This virus is extremely deadly, and it also lingers in the air for a very ...