In today’s society, death is a taboo subject. People don’t want to talk about it and would rather shove the difficult topic of mortality under the rug. However, as parents, we have a responsibility to prepare our children for what they will inevitably experience in life – death.
Children should also be taught about their own inevitable deaths, which can be an emotionally challenging yet important conversation for many families. It sucks, but it’s better to be prepared than caught off guard. Rather than denial, face this head-on. This article covers how you can teach your kids about the inevitable.
Use Simple Words to Talk About Death
One thing you should always keep in mind when talking to your children about death is that they will perceive things differently from adults. Because of this, you’ll have to simplify your language and explanations. For example, instead of saying the deceased is “at peace,” you’ll want to say their body has stopped working.
Rather than telling your child that a person has been killed, just say they died from an accident or some other cause. Perhaps most importantly, don’t use euphemisms when talking about death with your kids. Euphemisms will confuse your child and could lead to bigger problems down the line.
Inform Them About the Funeral Process
Explaining funerals to kids is important because it teaches them about loss, death, and love. Above all, it will make it easier for your child if they know what to expect when you attend a funeral. For instance, the presence of caskets may upset children or they may complain that there’s no food. By informing your child about the funeral process, you can prevent a lot of confusion and discomfort.
One way to prepare for a funeral is by going over what will happen before it starts. As previously mentioned, this includes explaining to kids why people attend funerals and how funerals work in general terms; why urns like the ones from this website were used, for example, and not the traditional caskets. In addition, tell them who will be there and why it’s important for them to attend. You can also explain what they can expect to see, such as flowers or pieces of remembrance.
If the funeral is open-casket, talk with your child beforehand about what a dead person looks like and how their body might be positioned. Note that this will vary depending on the type of funeral it is, but you can always say that the body will be in a peaceful or sleeping position.
Listen and Comfort Your Child
When it comes to death, there is literally nothing you can do to protect your children from pain and suffering. No matter how prepared you are or what the circumstances of a loved one’s passing are, your kid will go through some sort of grieving process. In fact, according to studies, children as young as two years old can experience the death of a loved one.
Because there’s no way to shield your child from suffering, it’s important to give them space and comfort them during their time of need. Although you may have intrusive thoughts about what your child is going through, try not to force your emotions on them. Be there for your child, listen to their concerns, and be understanding. This is totally ok and natural; just be sure to be there for your children during this time.
Speak About How You’re Feeling
Adults are often afraid to express how they’re feeling about death because they don’t want to appear weak or vulnerable to others. Remember that your kids aren’t necessarily processing their feelings in the same way you do. You may think you’re keeping it together or even bottling up your emotions but this isn’t the case for your children. Kids are intuitive beings who can already tell you’re hurting.
So, rather than trying to act like death doesn’t bother you, speak about your emotions with your kids. This way, they’ll know it’s ok to feel sad and that there are ways to cope with grief. You will also be giving them the chance to express their feelings on the matter and how it’s affecting them.
Use Funerals as a Teaching Moment
Funerals are hard for anyone, but they can be especially confusing and painful for children. If you have older kids, or if your child has experienced the death of a loved one before, try to use funerals as learning opportunities. Remember, death and funerals will be a part of your child’s life, so you should teach them about their purpose and what to expect before it actually happens.
You can explain that everyone is there to show love and support for the deceased person and their family members. To help your child understand what’s going on and why people are there, ask them to pay attention to the details and tell you what they notice. Talking about death with kids can be really hard for parents, but it is an inevitable part of life. Because we all die someday, we should try to prepare our children as best as possible. Funerals are also meant to say goodbye in a formal way, which children may find comforting.
Explain Events That’ll Happen After Death
In the event that someone close to your child dies, it’s a good idea to prepare them for what they can expect in the coming days. For example, if a grandparent has passed away, you can tell your kids how their parents will react and why. You can also explain how funerals work and what happens at wakes. If your child knows what’s going to happen, they’ll feel a lot better.
Informing kids about death should come naturally within the course of a conversation. In other words, there’s no need to make a big deal out of it and bring it up randomly. As long as you’re open with your kids and let them know it’s ok to ask questions, then you’ll be fine.
Respond to Their Questions
One of the hardest things about explaining death to kids can be answering their questions. After all, every child processes grief differently depending on age and maturity level. Regardless, it’s important that you answer your child’s questions as best as possible without giving too much detail.
If your child asks what death is, tell them it’s when a person stops living and breathing. If they ask how someone dies, for instance in the case of a car accident or illness, you can say that death occurs because their body can’t function anymore. The way you word things will depend on your own comfort level with discussing death with your kids.
Don’t sugarcoat things, as this may confuse children. However, if you’re struggling to answer a question, don’t hesitate to say so and make an effort to find out what they want to know. You can always look up resources online or ask other adults for help answering questions about death.
Parents should be honest with their children about death. It’s important to introduce the idea of death, but make sure you are not scaring them or making it seem like a bad thing. When kids are old enough, they will start asking more “why?” questions and this is when parents can talk about how some people live longer than others because of different health conditions which might lead to an earlier death.