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How to Talk to Your Child About the Death of a Loved One

by Editorial Team | August 22nd, 2016 | Elementary

child sad (400x400)Experiencing the death of a loved one is extremely difficult for everyone, but it can be especially confusing and scary for a child who does not fully understand what death is, and who does not understand where their loved one went. Talking to your child about the death of a loved one is the best way to ensure that they can make it through this difficult time, so continue reading for a few tips on how to go about doing so.

Teach Your Child About Your Religious Beliefs
Regardless of what religion you choose to believe in, there are likely many teachings about death and the afterlife within its scriptures. Sharing those teachings and concepts with your child can really help them cope with this new situation. If you are uncertain of what exactly you should say, you can simply do your research. For example, if you are a Christian, you can use a resource like Deily to learn more about your religion and its teachings regarding death and the afterlife.

Encourage Your Child to Communicate with You
Another step that you can take to talk to your child about the death of a loved is to encourage open communication with them. Let them know that you are there to answer any questions and address any concerns, and make sure that your child knows that there should be no fear or shame in wanting to talk about death or gain a better understanding of it.

Be sure that you are sensitive to your child’s desire to communicate with you, but only when they are ready to do so. Also, try to not put up any barriers that would inhibit communication. Offer your child an honest explanation when you show your own emotions, and listen to and accept your child’s feelings.

Don’t put off your child’s questions or tell your child that they are too young to talk about death. Use simple and brief answers that are appropriate to the questions that are asked, making sure that you phrase the answers in a way that will not overwhelm your child, but that will instead increase understanding.

Keep Your Child’s Age in Mind
Children ranging from the ages of around 6 to 10 will begin grasping death’s finality, but they may not understand that death happens to every living being. Young children may also personify death as a monster. If your child is in this age range, it is often best to provide them with a clear, simple, and honest explanation of what has happened to your loved one. Sometimes a child just needs to understand that your loved one went to the cemetery, while other children may be ready to learn about the afterlife.

With the tips above, you and your family can move through the heartbreaking experience of losing a loved one while teaching your child about death in a way that won’t produce fear or anxiety. Remember to be patient, understanding, and caring with your child, and encourage communication.

Brought to you by our friend, Carol.

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