Death is a natural part of the life cycle, but how does a parent explain that to a child? Here are some ways on how to explain a death to a child.
The cycle of life is such that there is a beginning, birth and an ending, death. Each comes with its own difficulties when it comes to explaining these phases to a child. Death holds a more solemn and unpleasant connotation, as the person that just passed will no longer be with the living. However, how do you explain to a child about death? It’s a difficult subject to be sure, but one that parents need to discuss freely with their children.
Children Are Aware Of Death
By talking with their children about death, parents will find out what they already know and what they have been misinformed on. At some level, children are aware of death because they see it in everyday life, whether it be on the television screen, seeing a dead bird or bug on the sidewalk, or hearing it read to them in a fairy tale at school. However, by being open with children about death, a parent can prepare a child for when a crisis occurs.
Parents also need to keep an open line of communication on the subject of death in the event the child wants to discuss the issue further, particularly if the parents can maintain open and honest feelings of their own on the subject. Children are great observers and will know when a parent is holding something back based simply on body language.
It is important that when a parent explains a death of a loved one, they use terminology that the children will understand. If the children are younger, it is best to not say, Grandpa went to sleep because children go to sleep too, so therefore the children may think they will go to sleep and not wake up either. It’s best to be specific. Tell the organ or illness that caused the loved one to pass away.
Another good explanation is telling the child that when people get old they often die. It’s best to share specific causes with the child, so that he doesn’t fantasize that he had something to do with the death of the person that passed. It is also important during the discussion to not cause a fear of death, a learned behaviour, but rather that it is a natural part of life.
How To Help Grieving Child
Every child will grieve in his own way. Child grieving needs space, understanding, and patience as they work through the loss of the loved one. It is important to remember that a child grieving process might not be in the same manner as an adult. A child might become hyperactive, act out, or may not cry. Whatever reaction a child has, it’s a process and one that the parents should not take personally.
Parents need to keep an eye on their children’s behaviour. If a normally happy child that gets good grades suddenly becomes withdrawn, seek the help of a professional. Doctors, school counselors, and mental health specialists might be able to provide the help a child needs and the parents with resources needed to help their child manage their grief at home.
Explain Death To Kids
While death is an unpleasant subject to discuss, it is important that, through the lines of open communication, parents explain what death is to children. It is also important that children learn to not fear death, but to come to understand it as a part of the circle of life.