The loss of a loved one can be extremely difficult. It can be confusing, make us angry, and make us sad. Sometimes we look for people or things to blame. For children, it’s even more difficult. Adults are often unsure of how to approach the grieving process when they lose a loved one, so imagine what it must be like for our kids. As parents, it falls on us to be there for our children when a loved one passes, even if we ourselves are struggling with it. But how do you approach that conversation? Here are a few ways to help you talk to your child about the death of a loved one.
Be Open and Honest
Your best bet when initiating a conversation about the death of a loved one with your child is, to be honest with them. Don’t use euphemisms such as telling them the loved one went to sleep. This will just cause confusion for your child, and potentially scare them since sleep is such a regular part of our lives. While it may be confusing and scary, explaining death to your child will help them understand that this is a natural thing that we all experience while allowing them to develop healthy coping mechanisms.
Explain How Things Might Change
The loss of a loved one can bring major changes into your child’s life if that loved one was around a lot. It’s important you explain to your child how things might change now. If a grandparent passed away and your child spent every other weekend with that grandparent, they’ll be confused when they realize they’re not going to visit anymore. If you’ve spent a holiday at this loved one’s home for many years, your child might not react well to suddenly having to celebrate that holiday somewhere else. These are all normal responses, and it’s important you try and prepare your child for the inevitable feelings they’ll be experiencing when they realize how different things are now.
Discuss The Funeral
If you’re planning on bringing your child to the funeral and viewing services, it might be a good idea to discuss the events with them before you go. As this is likely their first time going to a funeral, they may not understand what’s going on, or who all of the people coming are. Give them a rundown of how it will all go down, and explain why we have these types of events when loved ones pass away.
Share Your Feelings With Them
While this will be hard for your child, the fact of the matter is that it will be hard for you too. And that’s okay. What’s best is to share your feelings with your child. Show your child how you’re also going through this, that it’s okay to be sad and to cry. This will help them feel better about their own feelings, and let them know that we’re all going through this together.