- Reassure them of their own safety.
- Don’t project your fears onto the child.
- Limit access to recurring news and repeated exposure to the tragedy.
- Realize you can’t completely shield them from what happened.
- Build upon your trust relationship by letting the child hear things directly form you – even unsettling information.
- Keep in mind:
- There is no standard reaction you can or should expect from your child.
- Some children will have an increased sense of fear about their safety.
- Your children want, need and deserve the truth.
Tips for Talking to Young Children About Death
- Keep it simple, use concrete and familiar examples such as those found in nature to help explain death.
- Keep in mind that children often don’t understand that death is permanent.
- Remember it is okay to not have all the answers.
- It is not uncommon for children experiencing the death of a close relative, such as a sibling or a parent, to feel guilty. They may be concerned about “bad” or angry thoughts they may have had about the person while they were alive. Reassure children by reminding them that they have always been loved and still are and, explain the circumstances of the death.
Things to Keep in Mind
- Children need facts and information (just like adults) to cope.
- Children need to see adults’ tears and know it’s OK to cry when we are sad.
- Children need to feel included and helpful in some way.
- Children don’t have to “act sad” in order to do grief work.
- Young children may react more to the emotional climate in the home than to the actual loss.
- Most teens seek out support from peers or someone outside the family rather than a family member.
Need help addressing grief with your child? Call Avow’s children’s grief specialist at 239-261-4404.