ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

How and When to Talk to Kids About Death

Updated on August 19, 2007

When Should I Tell My Child About Death?

The big issues in life are sometimes best handled on a need-to-know basis. However, if a child is asking about death, they are probably ready for some answers. Teaching a child about nature can lay a foundation for understanding death. The child learns gradually that death is a natural progression that all living creatures face. While we can talk about plants or animals, even people dying, it's not until a grandparent or pet dies that the concept becomes real. For most children, these will their first big experiences with death.

If you are grieving for someone the child isn't close to, you can also use this as an opportunity to talk about death. Let your child know you're sad and that it's okay to be sad when someone dies. (It's also helpful for a child to understand why you're down so he doesn't blame himself for your mood.) Be prepared for questions, especially about your own death. The types of questions will depend on how much the child knows about the death you're dealing with. Don't promise not to die, but let your child know you'll probably live a very long time.

How Should I Tell My Child About Death?

Discussions of death need to be age appropriate. Little kids can sometimes seem obsessed with death, but they don't really know what they're talking about. Up to about Kindergarten, most kids are extremely literal. They need solid answers. Be truthful, avoiding fuzzy explanations like that the person moved on or has been lost. These terms are not clear to a child and could scare him.

When a grandmother dies, you can attribute it to her body - it didn't work anymore. If a younger person dies in an accident, you can say his body got broken. The hardest thing for a young child to understand is that death is final, that the person is never coming back. It may take a while of reminding the child before he stops asking to see the person who has died.

You can share your concept of an afterlife with the child if he's ready, but he may be just as satisfied to know that grandpa is in the cemetery.

Elementary school aged children can handle more details. They are starting to get the idea that death is forever. This is the time kids may think in terms of magic and wishes and that death may be avoided by luck or merit. They need honest answers.

Teenagers get it. They know everyone dies eventually. At this age, believe it or not, your child is likely pondering his own mortality. He will need to find meaning in the death of a loved one. Questions from your teen may not have anything to do with how the body stopped working. He's trying to grasp the meaning of life. If it's a peer who has died, the teen may feel guilty. Keep communication open and let your teenager know it's okay to grieve.

You know your child best. Everyone is unique and ready for different things at different times. Go with your gut instinct on this one. If you're honest from the start when your preschooler has questions about the dead bugs, it'll be easier when he has to face the loss of someone important.

More Resources

Read more from Lela at


Submit a Comment

  • profile image


    8 years ago

    today's kids are different

  • adsensemaster profile image


    9 years ago from India

    today kids are becoming more and more brilliant and i dont think parents should tell them about death anyways they will know it very soon from others.

  • Lela Davidson profile imageAUTHOR

    Lela Davidson 

    11 years ago from Bentonville, Arkansas

    Yes, I agree. The closest some kids get to nature these days is the Discovery Channel. It's natural and healthy for them to have questions and the more honest we are with our answers, the more they will look to us for guidance.

  • Ralph Deeds profile image

    Ralph Deeds 

    11 years ago from Birmingham, Michigan

    The deaths of pets or farm animals provide an occasion for children to learn about death In my experience farm children learn very naturally about death without a lot of conversation with their parents. Farm children also learn about reproduction, sex and birth quite naturally as they grow up. I can remember very vividly watching, fascinated, at an early age, a bull inseminate a cow. Parents shouldn't duck the subject of death, or other subjects, brought up by their children.


This website uses cookies

As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

Show Details
HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)