Helping Children Understand

Death is a hard topic for anyone to handle, but it might be hardest for young children. We have an understanding of death, we know it is a part of life. It doesn’t make it easier for us to cope, but at least we know what is going on. For a child, they don’t understand what all it means. They don’t understand why they are never going to see that certain person ever again. All they know is that someone they know isn’t around anymore. On top of that, they have to try and understand everything going on around them with the mourning and preparations being made. So how do you make this confusing time make sense to them?


   It won’t be easy, partly because you have to explain everything in terms they can understand, and because you have to deal with the loss yourself. Believe it or not, you shouldn’t hide these emotions from your child. Many times we like to think it is best to hide our sorrow or distress from our children and from our friends. As we will explain below, that is not always the best idea. Keep on reading to see a few of the suggested techniques to help children when someone they know passes away.


  1. Be open and direct with your child: Tell them gently that the person has died. Don’t try and hide it behind metaphors like “Grandma has gone away for a very long time”. Inform them that “I’m sorry, but your Grandma has died”. Using a metaphor will only confuse them until they learn the truth about what you are trying to tell them.
  2. Listen and Learn: Every child is going to react differently. Some might cry, some might nod and ask questions, some might not react at all. Watch how they react and comfort them accordingly. Hold them if they cry, answer their questions, ask if they understand.
  3. Encourage Talking about Emotions: Let your children tell you how they feel and let them know how you feel. If they know you are sad, they will understand it’s okay for them to be sad as well and to show it.
  4. Tell Them What Happens Next: If the person was actively involved in the child’s life, explain what changes will happen now. If they ever did anything with the child such as babysat them, tell them that now someone new will be babysitting them.
  5. Help Them Feel Better: Don’t let the child dwell too much on sad feelings. Remember to play with them, maybe take them somewhere they like to visit such as a park. Help them to stay positive. It can also help take your mind off of everything and find some positive vibes of your own.


These are just a few of the ways to approach your child. Remember in all things you do, though, to show compassion and understanding. Never make the child feel they are wrong for missing the person or being sad about their passing. Instead, encourage them to think positively about the person and remember the times they had together. Spend time your child or children and let them help you smile while you do the same for them.


Friends and family need to stick together, especially in times of loss and tragedy. So let Dale Woodward Funeral services handle your funeral arrangements so you can spend time with your family in this trying time.

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