10 Tips for Explaining Death to Children

By: Ian Elliott
Friday, October 23, 2015

Many parents struggle to discuss death with their children, and many often try to avoid discussing this difficult subject with their little ones. However, death is a fact of life and by being properly prepared to help our children cope, we need to let them know that it’s okay to talk about it.

By discussing death with your children, you help them cope with feelings of confusion and loss, and help them understand how important it is to share time with the people they love.

Below are 10 tips for explaining death to children:

1. It’s okay to not know everything.

Don’t be afraid to say that you don’t know the answer to a question.

2. Be honest and encourage them to ask questions.

It’s important for children to know that they can talk about death, and that being sad, angry, scared, or whatever emotions they are experiencing are perfectly okay.

3. Don’t get frustrated with children who ask the same questions again and again.

If a child is persistently asking the same questions, calmly tell the child that the person has died and can’t come back. Don’t discourage questions or tell them that they are “too young” to understand.

4. Try to talk about death before emotions are involved.

Children are exposed to mortality at a very young age: they see plants die, as well as insects, birds, and rodents. Taking the opportunity to talk to them about death during these minor encounters can help them understand and cope when faced with the death of a friend or family member.

5. For children under the age of 5, explain death in basic and concrete terms.

Often, it’s helpful to the child if you explain it in terms of the absence of familiar life functions. For example, saying “when Grandpa died, he stopped breathing, eating, talking, thinking or feeling” can help put things into perspective for small children.

6. When answering questions, be brief and keep explanations simple.

Be cautious not to overwhelm them with too many details or examples, which may be confusing or muddle the message.

7. Avoid euphemisms

Using euphemisms to explain death may detract from the seriousness of the situation. Don’t say that the person “went to sleep” or “went away” as these explanations can cause children to be afraid to go to sleep, or worry that their parents will leave the house and “go away.”

8. Let them know not every illness is fatal.

If a loved one has died due to an illness, stress to children that we all get sick from time to time, and we usually get better again.

9. Don’t lead your child to believe that only old people die.

When they learn that young people can die as well, they may mistrust you for having lied to them. Try saying something like “Grandma lived a long time before she died. Some people don’t get to live a long time, but most people do. You and I will live a long time, I think.”

10. Be ready to discuss death whenever they have a question.

As children grow up, their understanding of death changes, so be prepared to discuss death at various points as they grow up and mature.

Leave a comment
Name*:
Email:
Comment*:
Please enter the letters you see in the image.

Comments

Please wait

Previous Posts

What Goes Into the Expense of a Standard Funeral?

Funerals are a long process that involves a small group of professionals and a couple of different establishments. You need to hire a funeral director, reserve a place in a burial ground, need spac...

How Does Proper Goal Setting Aid in the Grieving Process

Most people set goals for themselves at some point in their lives. It helps them have some purpose and encourages them on to achieve something. In fact, goal setting is a very important aspect of d...

What do Funeral Directors do for a Family

When a loved one passes away, you have to manage a number of different things. In addition to planning the funeral service, you need to inform family and friends about the demise, organize for the ...

Understanding Funeral Pricing

Most people aren’t aware of exactly how expensive a funeral can be until they are actually confronted with the expenses suddenly. This process involves the services of various funeral home employee...

How Can You Help a Friend as they go Through the Stages of Grief?

It’s not easy to see a friend and loved one go through grief. You want to help them, support them, and comfort them, but don’t know the right way to go about it. Every individual has a different wa...

5 Memorable Ways to Honor Your Loved One Once They've Passed On

Death doesn’t weaken the bond you shared with your loved one that has passed on and grieving family members look for ways to keep the memory of the dear departed alive. There are a number of differ...

I Have Pre-Planned At One Funeral home, Can I Switch Funeral Homes?

Planning a funeral for oneself isn’t always an easy task, but today many people opt for this type of funeral arrangement. They sign a contract with the funeral home of their choice and prepay for t...

How Does a Celebration of Life Differ from a Funeral?

There are a number of different customs and traditions that deal with the loss of a loved one. Most follow these traditions and arrange for a formal funeral service prescribed by their religious or...

Holidays Without a Loved One - How to Cope

The grieving process is very challenging and many people approach it differently. But regardless of where a person is in the grieving process, holidays can be stressful and painful. Holidays are a ...

3 Misconceptions about Pre-Planning Your Funeral

Planning funerals can be a long, stressful, and painful process for a grieving family. Everyone has their opinion of how these funerals need to be carried out and that can lead to conflict. The bes...