Tips for Explaining the Concept of Death to Children

By: Vito Arahovites
Friday, June 17, 2016

Death is a fact of life. It’s something that we all must face, and teaching your children about the concept of death is an important part of growing up. Whether it’s handling the death of a loved one or a beloved pet, children will eventually find themselves wondering about death and looking for answers.

Here are five tips for explaining the concept of death to a child.

1. Consider the Age

When discussing death with children, it’s important to consider the age of the child. For example, kids less than six years old may need a different approach than a child closer to 9 or 10. Young kids often have a very literal view of the world, so it’s important to explain things in the most basic way possible.

2. Encourage Questions

One of the best tips in explaining death to children is to be open and honest with them. Creating an atmosphere of comfort will help the child feel safe. Although you may not have all the answers, it’s important to do your best and be honest with the child. By encouraging and answering questions, children will learn that death is a normal part of life and that it is acceptable to feel sadness or grief. This is also an ideal opportunity to discuss spiritual or religious beliefs.

3. Avoid Euphemisms

Telling a child that someone “went to sleep” when he or she passed away could potentially scare a child and make bedtime more difficult. Using euphemisms like these will only help to confuse the child and make them think that dying and sleeping are the same things. The best way to approach the concept of death is with very basic, honest terms.

4. Be Patient

Explaining the concept of death to a child can often be repetitive, the child may repeatedly ask why a loved one passed away or ask where the loved one is. It’s important to stay calm at these repetitive questions and be compassionate and understanding. Although it may be difficult, it may take a child a few explanations to fully grasp the true meaning of your words.

5. Don’t be Afraid to Let Them See You Grieve

Many parents think that allowing their children to see them cry or grieve shows weakness and is damaging to the child. In fact, the opposite is true. While at first it may be alarming for the child to see their parent get upset, the truth is that in the long run, the child will learn that grown-ups are allowed to cry when they are sad, and that grieving for a deceased loved one is a normal part of life.

Charles J. O’Shea Funeral Homes and Albrecht, Bruno & O’Shea Funeral Home located on Long Island, NY is your source for compassionate and caring funeral services. If you have any questions about dealing with the loss of a loved one, speak with one of our experts at 516-731-5550 today.

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