Explaining Death to Children
Jun 27th 2018
The death of a loved one not only affects adult but it also can have a profound impact on children. Children experience grief just as much as adults do. Experts in child psychology have noted that even before a child can speak, they can experience grief when a loved one dies. The feelings of such death or passing can become a part of their lives forever. It often has an everlasting effect in some form or another.
It's important to note and remember that children deal with death differently depending on their age group. Their reactions are not always evident or experienced right away. Sometimes, the reaction can be months later after the death of a loved one. A child or toddler of age 2 or 3 has very little knowledge or understanding of the meaning of death.
While a child who is older has more of a capacity to grasp the mystery behind death and may remember the death more vividly. The level of a child's emotional development should be considered by the adult if you plan on speaking to the child about death to help them understand death.
Adults should talk openly about the death of a relative or loved one to help the child understand that grief is a natural feeling for everyone when someone they love has died. Confirm to the child that it is okay to cry and be sad and the sadness or hurt will not last forever.
Caring parent can help a child cope during a loss by being open, honest and loving. Responding to their questions in a patient and gentle manner will also show them you care about how they are feeling.
Keep in mind to keep the answer at their level of understanding. Modify your explanation so the child is able to comprehend which will prevent any kind of confusion. Be sure to use language they can understand and relate to.
What parent say is as important as the body language and manner in which it comes across. Tone will be key in your expression to the child. Be matter of fact and don't be overly emotional. What you communicate without words is just as meaningful as what is actually being said.
It is not uncommon for a child to ask repeated or the same questions. Answer them repeatedly the same as the first time it was asked to help the child understand about the loss. Be patient if the same questions are asked again and again, it is the child that needs reassuring and is verbalizing the thoughts that are in his/her mind.