How to talk to children about death

Kate BucklandBlog

Most people find death something that is uncomfortable to talk about, but knowing how to talk to children about death can be particularly difficult. If not done right, it can be a traumatic experience for both the adult and the child taking part in the conversation. You might not have considered the need to discuss death with your child, but unfortunately it is something that they will definitely have to deal with during their life. Whether your child’s first experience with death is that of a much loved pet, a grandparent sibling, parent or friend, you will still need to be prepared for the big conversation. It may be that your child hasn’t experienced the death of someone or something they love before, but they are worried about death in some way. You will still find this article useful if that’s the case for you. It can often be helpful to initiate conversation around death with your child before they experience the death of a loved one. We know it’s not easy, so before you jump in, grab a cuppa then have a read of this blog post to arm yourself with what you need to know about talking to your child about death. Before you start The first thing to remember is that death is a part of life. All living things die eventually. Plants, animals, humans… we all die. We suggest you are as honest as possible while still remaining age appropriate for the child you are speaking with. If you have the opportunity, it’s best to think about what you are going to say and how you are going to say it before the conversation takes place. Consider some of the questions your child might ask you about death and dying (we have listed some examples of questions children ask about death later in this article) and have an answer ready. How you answer may depend on your own religious beliefs if you have any. If you don’t know something, it’s okay to admit that, but above all else be sensitive to your child’s emotions during this conversation. Find a comfortable place to have this important chat with your child – somewhere that is not only physically comfortable, but also somewhere they feel safe and loved. If you have the conversation about death sprung on you, do your best to remain as relaxed as possible. While showing some emotion is fine, it isn’t the time for big displays of emotion. Take your time. Part of the reason such conversations can be so difficult is because we often avoid talking about things we find upsetting. Indeed, death is frequently a taboo subject, so if you feel like you will struggle with this conversation, practice with another adult first. Use the word ‘death’ This might sound harsh to some, but by using the word death we help to avoid confusion. Think of the different words and phrases we use to say someone has died – passed, passed away, passed … Read More