Home > Emotional Issues > Talking to Children About Death

Talking to Children About Death

By: Beth Morrisey MLIS - Updated: 14 May 2018 | comments*Discuss
 
Funeral burial children And Death

Talking to children about death can be uncomfortable and very often parents don’t think about talking to their children about this subject until a close relative, friend or even pet dies. This may be because parents do not want to speak about the subject themselves, or because they are attempting to spare their children the pain and grief that accompanies a loss. Unfortunately, waiting until the exact moment of grief means that parents are not in the best frame of mind to discuss death, and children only have confusion and frustration to compound their natural emotions regarding their loss. Instead, speaking with children about death as a natural part of life long before they are ever faced with it may spare everyone a further ordeal when a loved one does die.

Age Appropriate Information

As with most things, discussions about life and death should always be age appropriate for the child involved. This means using vocabulary that the child understands, examples to which the child can relate, and resources that the child will find interesting. For example, children who like to help in the garden may respond well to a discussion of plants or flowers that live and die. Children who enjoy animals may understand better if the example is based on a goldfish that stopped swimming. Books and certain children’s television shows may well tackle the subject of death and provide an opportunity for parents and children to discuss the topic. Very often these discussions will be short as children have a naturally limited attention span. This is fine. The important thing is that a short discussion takes place, and further discussions continue when the next opportunity presents itself.

Questions and Answers

Children are curious creatures and it is only smart to assume that their curiosity will extend to the topic of death. Parents should be prepared for some questions and try to answer them honestly. For example, a child may wonder if it is lonely to be dead or if they will ever see their friends again if they die. Such questions should not upset parents. If children talk about their own deaths it is usually because they are attempting to understand the topic in relation to themselves, not because they are expecting to die soon. In fact, many children may discuss this topic without truly understanding the concept of death. Serious questions should be met with serious answers, and this holds true for any question that the child has asked seriously (whether or not it seems amusing to an adult).

Children and Funerals

When a death does occur, many parents are uncertain of if they should bring their child to the funeral. Parents should remember that funerals are events at which many individuals find closure and have a chance to say goodbye to the deceased. If the child is at an age where they may take advantage of these opportunities then they should be included. However, parents should be ready for questions at the funeral and/or burial. For example, when watching a coffin lowered a child may ask if it is cold in the ground, or if it is really necessary to leave the deceased alone. Parents should answer these questions honestly, though they may want to do so in private as other attendees may feel that they have the right to answer the question as well. If children are too young to sit through a funeral, it may be better to leave them at home with a babysitter.

You might also like...
Share Your Story, Join the Discussion or Seek Advice..
my wifes mum is dying of cancer,i find it hard to say the right thing,she,s shutting me out and is quickly angry,its hard not to bite back,but i do,she was my mum too,more so than my own,the kids areupset,i have to be the strong one,but who,s going to look after me when im not feeling too strong myself,im not sorry for my self but i dont feel im very good at coping with multiple sadness,what to say?
roving journeyman - 23-Jan-12 @ 12:41 PM
Share Your Story, Join the Discussion or Seek Advice...
Title:
(never shown)
Firstname:
(never shown)
Surname:
(never shown)
Email:
(never shown)
Nickname:
(shown)
Comment:
Validate:
Enter word:
Latest Comments
  • Oliveee
    Re: How Grief Affects Your Relationships
    I know a professional hacker brianhackwizard @ gmail . Com who has worked for me once this month. He offers legit…
    25 June 2018
  • Lynn
    Re: How Grief Affects Your Relationships
    Hello,Do you suspect your partner might be cheating on you? Has he/she cheated on you before? Or you want to have idea…
    25 June 2018
  • Tux
    Re: Debts After Death
    Fathers partner died. Will states £20k to be giving to dad. Daughter of dads partner is Executor - 14years passed since death - i contact (via…
    25 June 2018
  • MORIAH
    Re: How Grief Affects Your Relationships
    as far as credit report hacking with professionalism and high assurance in getting your job done in this modern world.…
    25 June 2018
  • Kadali
    Re: How Grief Affects Your Relationships
    i was in need of a hacker to spy at my cheating spouse on-till i went online and found this great hacker named…
    19 June 2018
  • Mates
    Re: What if There is No Will?
    My sons dad died his wife has a house my sons dad had s house in there own right . Also they have a joint house . He had left no will…
    19 June 2018
  • jane
    Re: How Grief Affects Your Relationships
    how much do these hackers charge and how long till they return ur email thanks
    18 June 2018
  • FacingBereavement
    Re: What if There is No Will?
    Rach - Your Question:My mum has died from cancer, no will and leaves a mortgage behind of £250,000. She wasn't living in the house,…
    18 June 2018
  • Tony
    Re: What if There is No Will?
    Our father passed away without a signed will, we obtained a probate for my mother. She passed away recently without a signed will…
    17 June 2018
  • Rach
    Re: What if There is No Will?
    My mum has died from cancer, no will and leaves a mortgage behind of £250,000. She wasn't living in the house, was living on her…
    17 June 2018
Further Reading...
Our Most Popular...
Add to my Yahoo!
Add to Google
Stumble this
Add to Twitter
Add To Facebook
RSS feed
You should seek independent professional advice before acting upon any information on the FacingBereavement website. Please read our Disclaimer.