How to talk to children about death
One of the most challenging parts about losing a loved one is helping children deal with the loss. It is hard enough as it is to tell friends and family, but children are a different matter altogether. It is a sensitive topic, and it can be tricky trying to navigate what details to say to them and how to explain it to them. Here are some things you should and should not do when your children are mourning the loss of a loved one.
What you should do
Cry together – It is a healthy way to release intense emotions. Crying is a natural part of the grieving process so do not feel as though you have to put on a stoic exterior or their sake. It can be helpful for both you and your children to heal together.
Be open – If you have lost someone close to you who was not close to your children, be honest about how you are feeling. Letting them know why you are emotional can help them understand the grieving process better. Children also tend to mirror their parents but be open with them about what you are going through can help them make sense of what is going on. Do not hide your tears and leave them wondering.
Make sure they understand – For especially young children, it can be challenging to grasp something as permanent as death. Using that word might be difficult for you to say to them but it is vital that they know what happened. Telling them instead that the person went to sleep will leave your children feeling confused and unaware of the situation entirely. Explain to them what death is so that they are clear about what happened.
Be ready for their reaction – If this is your child’s first loss, anticipate any type of response. Everyone reacts differently to trauma no matter how old they are. Let your children deal with it their own way and give them time to process this loss.
Prepare them for the funeral service – Answer any questions your children may have about the burial or cremation service. If there is a viewing planned, prepare them beforehand, so they are not shocked. Discuss funeral etiquette and details about the plan for the day so that they are not caught off guard.
What you should not do
Hide your emotions – Keeping a strong front may seem like the right thing to do in this situation, but it could hinder your children’s’ ability to grieve fully. It is crucial for your children to see you get emotional so that they know you can relate to how they are feeling.
Do not be afraid to say, “I don’t know” – Your children will likely have many questions about death – many of which you cannot give an answer for. It is okay to tell them that in this new chapter of your lives there will be things that you will need to figure out with them.
Be afraid to laugh – Feel free to share stories that you and your children can enjoy and laugh about together. It can be therapeutic to focus on the good times you had as a family with your loved one rather than on the feeling of losing them.
Change your routine – Be as consistent in your daily routine as you can be for your children. In this time of uncertainty, they need consistency and be able to see that life can still go on.
Set a timeline to grieve – Everyone deals with loss differently and in their own time. There is no correct length of time to grieve. Just because they start to ac alright again sooner or later than you does not mean they care more or less than you. Remember that everyone grieves their own way.
Losing someone and dealing with grief is never easy for anyone affected. Be a point of support for your children and let them be there to support you as well. Coping with the loss of a loved one requires patience, understanding, and time. Heritage Gardens Cemetery is here for you and your children. Reach out if you need advice or assistance during this challenging time.