Tips for Explaining the Concept of Death to Children

By: David Tindall
Thursday, February 11, 2016

Death is inevitable, but for many parents and guardians the idea of discussing this difficult and complex subject with young children can seem daunting. In many cases it is something that they attempt to avoid altogether until they believe the child is “old enough” to understand the concept of death.

However, there’s no “right” time to start teaching children about death, and what it means to die. Especially in cases where a pet, family member, or family friend passes away, it’s important for the adults in the child’s life to do the best that they can to help the child understand what it means to pass away.

By tackling this subject early on, children are able to better learn how to cope with feelings of grief, loss, confusion, and loneliness that inevitably affect us after we lose someone we care about.

Below are a few tips to keep in mind when explaining death to the children in your life:

You don’t have to know everything

It’s okay to say “I don’t know” when your child asks a difficult question. Many people are unsure of what, if anything, happens after we die, and being honest with children helps reassure them that they don’t need to have the answers, either, and that confusion is normal.

Encourage children to discuss how they’re feeling

Ask your children how they’re feeling, and if they have any questions about what it means to die. Let them know that it’s okay and totally normal to feel scared, angry, sad, or confused, and let them know how you’re feeling, too. By sharing your feelings you can connect with your child, and aid them in their grieving process

Don’t get frustrated with them

Children may ask several questions again and again, such as asking after the deceased person, which can lead to frustration and anger, especially if they keep asking about a sensitive subject.

If this happens, don’t get angry; calmly explain to the child that the person in question has died, and can’t come back.

Discuss death before it becomes personal

Children encounter death every day; from plants, to rodents, to birds and bugs, they see life come and go around them. By taking advantage of opportunities like these, you can get your child thinking about death before emotions get too involved, as they tend to when a loved one dies.

Use concrete terms

Trying to use euphemisms detracts from the seriousness of the situation, and can be confusing to children. For example, saying “Grandpa went to sleep” implies that Grandpa may someday wake up, and keeps the child from understanding the permanence of death.

Additionally, these euphemisms can lead to children holding onto a lost hope that their loved one will return, which can extend and aggravate the grieving process.

Talking to children about death isn’t an easy task, but by keeping these core principles in mind you will be ready to have the difficult discussion with your child when the time comes.

 

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

What Do I Do With The Ashes After Cremation?

In the case of cremation, the decedent’s family has to decide what they want to do with the ashes. Some people preplan their cremation and mention this aspect in the contract and the family can fol...

Meaningful Gift Ideas For Someone Who Has Recently Lost Someone

When a person is grieving, they require some support from people around them. Dealing with the death of someone in the family can be a challenging phase. At Tindall Funeral Home, we have seen that ...

4 Types Of Cremation: Understanding The Differences

After a person’s death, you can either bury or cremate the body. The former is the conventional way to dispose of the body and cremation is a relatively new concept. At Tindall Funeral Home, we hav...

Do Women Serve As Pall Bearers At A Funeral?

At most funerals, it is common to see men carrying the casket, which raises the question- Do women serve as pallbearers at a funeral? At Tindall Funeral Home, clients sometimes ask us this question...

What is Cremation Jewelry

When you lose a loved one, dealing with the grief is only one aspect. The situation is incredibly difficult because death has a certainty to it and you know that you will never set eyes on the pers...

Creative Ideas for Funeral Services

How people look at death and grieve when they lose a loved one has changed significantly over the years. Tindall Funeral Home has seen that clients these days prefer to celebrate the life of their ...

Sending Flowers to the Bereaved

Sending flowers along with a thoughtful condolence note is a simple way to express your support to grieving family members. Different types of flowers convey thoughtfulness, empathy, and comfort. T...

Honoring and Coping with the Loss of Loved One

It is vital to find different ways to keep the memory of a loved one alive after their death. Dealing with the loss can become an uphill task for you and other members of your family. However, we a...

Cremation: The Advantages and Disadvantages

We all have to pass at some point in time but most people are not very comfortable with discussing anything related to death and dying. This aspect is slowly changing over time. We at Tindall Funer...

Irrevocable Pre-Need Arrangements

A funeral services package, or pre-need arrangement, is a pre-paid agreement between a person and a funeral home. It details the funeral arrangements for that individual upon their demise. It&...