We hesitate as parents and carers to talk to children about death. A conversation that involves talking about separation; but glossing over a death in the family or that of a close friend, will leave unanswered questions in a child’s mind. We want them to feel positive about life, that life is always good. We don’t want our children to grow up with any fears. There are many small ways, whilst a child is small to prepare them in gentle ways that life is always changing. They will always understand the joy of new life, welcoming a new brother or sister, delighted at having a new puppy or kitten but how do we prepare them for the loss of someone they love. Parents and loved ones will spend time preparing children for joyous events. Guiding them on how to be around a new baby, how to be kind and loving to a new animal. When it comes to telling a child of the passing of a loved one many people hesitate, mostly because they are worried they will present it the wrong way or that the child won’t be able to handle it; furthermore if the child reacts badly it will add to the sorrow of everyone else.
The presentation of losing a loved one, or preparing a child for the approaching death of a loved one, needs as much thought and preparation as one would take in helping a child to understand how important it is when a new baby comes into the home.
In joyous events its usually the person who is closest to the children or the child, who talks the event through with them, help prepare the child for what is going to happen, and how the child should respond.
The same should apply when a loved one is close to death or informing the child about the death of a loved one. Organise this as quickly as possible, so they don’t overhear or hear it from someone else, or in the case of a teenager, they don’t read about it on social media.
Choose a quiet place, with time to talk it through properly, allowing time for questions and their point of view. Consider if you need to talk to each child individually or should you talk as a family.
When the young ones talk, be a good listener, children are naturally curious, and will ask straight out questions that can be confronting and distressing. Respond truthfully taking into consideration the spiritual values they have been raised with. It’s okay to cry. Talk about how you will have to pull together to love and support each other, making it clear that talking together will help to celebrate your loved ones life and all the good things you have shared.
Get everyone involved in remembrance activities looking at photos, writing a tribute, sharing stories and incidences that were important to each person.
A consultant at Lady Anne Funerals can help you. It could possibly help to lay your thoughts out with another person first. Lady Anne Funerals are experienced in all aspects of these experiences, you are more than welcome to call and go through it with one of the ladies.