Having to process the death of a loved one is never easy. But, strange as it might be, there are people for whom these deaths are even more difficult to get through. Namely, the children in our lives.
In today’s article, we’ll be breaking down three key steps for talking about death and helping children cope with grief.
1. Be A Safe Space
Talking about death is difficult. Talking about it with children is even more so. It can feel like you’re taking away their innocence, or like you’re putting them in some kind of danger. Worst of all, it can sometimes feel like you’re just causing them even more pain.
But the truth is, death happens and when it’s happened, it’s final. Their world is already upside down and that pain and loss is already there. What you’re doing isn’t making that worse - it’s giving them somewhere to go with those feelings. Because, the truth is, if you don't explain what death is and what’s happening, they’re going to imagine something all on their own. And that is much worse for them.
You are their safe place for information and consolation throughout all of this. Speak plainly and with compassion, assure them that their feelings are normal, and reassure them that they will feel better with time.
2. Explain Death As Simply As Possible
Death is a complicated thing for us to “get”, even as adults. For children, without actively speaking about it, they could be left confused, unsure, and believing things that just aren’t true. Everybody needs a little help, and kids more so than anybody.
Talking with the kids in your life when someone close to them passes away is an authentic, profound way to intervene positively in their lives. It’s an opportunity to teach them about loss and grief, so they can process death in a healthy way, moving forward. Because, the sad thing is, they’re only going to experience more death over the years. You can play a pivotal role in helping them through those experiences.
Tell the truth. Be sensitive. Speak in simple terms they will be able to process. They’ll be happy you did.
3. The Simple Art Of Answering Questions
After the initial pain and trauma of the death process has settled in, the child in your life is likely to have a lot of questions. Curiosity is very natural in childhood, and you have to make room to help process them.
Some questions may be less comfortable than others to ask. "Will that happen to me?" “When is my mommy going to die?”
Others, you can process calmly, explaining in simple words by just outlining the answer. "Why can't doctors fix it?" "Does everybody die?"
Answer with honest answers, and do your best to be reassuring. "Everybody does die, but most of us live for many years before having to worry about that." "I don't know why the doctor couldn't fix grandma’s problem. We all wish they could have. It makes me sad. How about you?"
Helping Children Cope With Grief
Kids aren’t naturally equipped to process death in a healthy or realistic way. The best way of helping children cope with grief is to be honest, speak plainly, and making yourself available.
For a funeral or cremation to help say a proper goodbye, visit Woodward Cremation & Funeral Services, today!