How To Talk To A Child About Death

What You Say To Children About Death

When you talk to a child about death and loss, right from the beginning let your child know that showing emotion is okay.  Boys especially have been socialized to think that it is not brave to cry. Explain that this is a very, very sad time and that everyone is upset and that many of people may be crying.  That’s because we are sad that we won’t see the person anymore.

Explain that crying is normal—that’s that’s what we feel like doing sometimes when a person dies.  You should also explain that many people do not show emotion openly when they’re upset but that doesn’t mean that they didn’t love the dead person.

“If we explain the emotional turmoil that the child feels all around him he or she won’t be frightened by the change that he sees in us and in others.

With teenagers you probably won’t have to worry about their understanding of death. What they’ll need is the facts and your emotional support and understanding.  Without being patronizing, do everything you can to be sure the child understands what you’re saying.  Remember that he or she may be in shock.”

Adapted and excerpted from“How Do We Tell The Children?” by Daniel Schaeffer, Ph.D. and Christine Lyons, p.32

 

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