How do I explain death to my child?
When a love one dies we can feel pain uncontrollable sadness, and anger etc. At times, it is hard to express how you feel to family or friends. Talking about the times you shared an loving memories can be a comfort. As parents, we never want our child to hurt or feel sad we wish we could take away the pain. Which is how I felt when I had to explain death to my child. We all know that each day will be a challenge, by God's grace each day gets better with time.
The question is not whether we will die, but how we will live— Dr. Joan Borysenko, 1945
How do I explain death to my child ?
What are ways you can help your child talk about their feelings?
- 0% Share with your children how you feel
- 0% Spend the day talking about the memories you shared with your love one
- 0% All of the above would be a good start
This poll is now closed to voting.
Expressing your feelings
Talking and explaining to your child about death lis a very hard subject. There is know easy way to explain death to your child. Better Health of Victoria has composed the following suggestions:
- Tell the truth in a simple direct way
- Use concrete words that children know, for example, use the word died
- If a child is young use pictures, toys, and books
- Children are curious so be prepared for regular and repeated questions
- Explore with children the meaning of death, this can include cultural beliefs and practices
- If you are too distressed to answer your child's questions, ask another adult that you and your child trust to talk to the child.
- Don't pretend that you are not sad, express how you feel, this can help your child express their own feelings
Process of Grief - Med line Plus
The process of grief takes time, and everyone handles grief in their own way. Reassuraning your child with love and care is the most important thing. If your child is having a hard time accepting what has happen, they may show different types of behavior:
- Long-term denial
- Repeated crying spells
- Disabling depression
- Suicidal thoughts
- Persistent anger
- Persistent unhappiness
- Social withdrawl
- Severe separation anxiety
- Deliquency or promiscuity
- Decline in school performance
- Persistent sleep problems
- Eating disorders
Long-term avoidance of feelings or depression, talk to your child's doctor if you notice any of these changes in behavior.
You have been my friend, That in itself is a tremendous thing— Charlotte's Web by E.B. White
Anxiety & Grief
Anxiety can be a normal part of the grief process. If the anxiety gets worse or does not go away after a period of time, consult your doctor. Anxiety Disorders-National Inst. Of Mental Health:
- Panic disorder
- Obsessive compulsive disorder
- Post-traumatic stress disorder and Phobias
- Fast heart beat
- Chest or stomach pain
- Breathing problems
- Weakness, nausea
- Hot, cold chills
- Tingly or numb hands
Panic attacks can happen anytime without warning. You may live in fear of another attack, an avoid places where you have had an attack before. This may also cause a person not to leave their home.
U.S. National Library of Medicine
Reaching out for help
family and friends
suicidal thoughts or feelings
not interested on normal activities
withdrawal from family and friends
Returning to school
When returning to school it would be helpful to speak with your child's teacher ahead of time. This will allow the teacher to schedule appointments with a counselor if needed.
It was very helpful for me to speak with my son's teacher and letting her know how he was dealing with the death in our family. It's important that you explain to your children that its alright to cry or feel sad. As a family, we will go through the healing process together.
NIMH Children and Mental Health
Age group Chart for Children & Concepts of Grief
Discussing the concept of death depends on the age of the child (conducted data www.nlm.nih.gov)
Age 0-2 years
- Sees death as separation or abandoment
- Has no cognitive understanding of death
- Feels despair from disruption of caretaking
- More crying than normal
Age 2-6 years
- Often believes that death is reversible, temporary
- May perceive death as a punishment
- Engages in magical thinking that wishes come true
- May feel guilt or sadness for negative feelings towards the person who died
- Shows gradual understanding of irreversibility to comprehend cause and effect relationship
Age 11 years or older
- Understands that death is irreversible, universal, and inevitable
- Has abstract and philosophical thinking
Families should know, that showing your feelings of shock, sadness, guilt, and anger are normal and helpful.
Somebody should tell us, right at the start of our lives, that we are dying. Then we might live life to the limit, every minute of everyday. Do it ! I say. What ever you want to do, do it now! There are only so many tomorrows.— Pope Paul lV, Italian Pope (1897-1978)
- How to Help Children Cope With Death and Loss
Helping children cope with death is one of the hardest things you will encounter. But the most important thing is to let them deal with death in their own terms.