Helping Kids Deal With Death and Grief

By: Jacklyn Hutchens
Monday, March 22, 2021

The idea of death is prevalent in the media consumed by most people today, even children. Internet and TV shows, cartoons, video games, and literature mention a topic on dying or relating to it. Kids exposed to these media are made conscious of the idea of death; however, experiencing the loss and grief firsthand is an entirely different process.

How to Explain Death to a Child

As a guardian or parent, the initial reaction is to shelter the child from pain, but you can't shield them forever from the inevitability of loss and grief. A beloved pet or a family member dying is stressful and confusing for kids, and making sure they feel safe and heard is the best first step you can take.

Remember to Be Age-Appropriate

Death can come at any time, and this is why you should remember to approach your explanation based on the child's age. Kids need to grasp the concept at their level.

For example, very young children do not understand the permanence of death yet and might think that a dead loved one or pet can come back after some time. While school-age children may know that death is permanent, they would also have more emotions to process.

Don't Use Euphemisms

Kids may not have the comprehensive skills to discern literal meaning from a figure of speech. It is important to be direct but still compassionate when you explain losing someone from death.

Encourage Expression

Children grieve differently. They can go from seemingly not caring to wailing non-stop. Kids and pre-teens can also experience a form of emotional shut down when they get overwhelmed or confused. It is your role as the adult to let them know their emotions are valid and heard.

Guiding the young ones to find healthy coping activities can be a powerful emotional outlet since they might not have enough verbal communication skills. Pictures, videos, storybooks, and art can be their outlet for self-expression.

Attend the Funeral

Funerals and the whole preparation for it is an excellent opportunity when you're looking at how to explain death to a child. Funerals, along with memorial items, provide an avenue where you can celebrate the deceased with the child. Being involved in the ceremonies provides closure, like reading them the epilogue to their favorite story.

Direct Cremation Services of Virginia offers simple direct cremations and meaningful memorials. Contact us today for caring, dignified, and affordable services.

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