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Bullet Point Parenting

Talking To Kids About Death

And the dust returns to the ground it came from, and the spirit returns to God who gave it.  (Ecclesiastes 12:7)

 

Death is a painful reality of the world we live in. We were not designed to live forever on earth.  

As Christians, we have hope that we will see each other again in heaven (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18). But that doesn’t make the separation we experience any easier.  We try to soften the blow by avoiding the d-word. Instead of saying Grandma died, we say she passed away, is no longer with us, or went to be with Jesus.

If it’s difficult for adults to talk about death, how in the world do we explain it do our kids?

Here are few tips from parents and counselors for talking to kids about death:

  • Be honest. “Grandma is sleeping,” might be easier to say, but euphemisms for death can confuse a child. When will Grandma wake up? If I go to sleep, am I going stay asleep, too? Children fear what they don't understand, so tell the truth in a gentle way. They don’t need all the details, but they do need the truth.
  • Answer their questions or find someone who can. In some cases, your own grief might make it difficult to talk about what happened. Allow a trusted family member, friend or counselor sit with you and help answer questions in a way your child will understand.
  • Let children know it’s OK to cry. Sometimes, we get so focused on being strong for our kids, we forget they are following our lead. Give children the freedom to cry or to laugh, and to express whatever they feel at the time.
  • Assure them they will be taken care of. Especially in the death of a parent or caregiver, kids need to know they are loved and will be provided for.
  • Don't push children to talk about death before they are ready. They will just shut down. Offer to talk about it, but if they say “No,” be patient. Children often have a delayed reaction to death. Behavior changes or sadness can set in months later when reality sets in that their loved one isn’t coming back.  
  • Help children work through their grief by remembering. One mom helped her son make a book about his loved ones so he wouldn't have anxiety about forgetting them. They made a page for each person he remembered. He drew and colored them the way he remembered (hair color, eye color, etc.), and around each person he drew what he enjoyed doing with them or what he remembered them doing or liking.
  • Humor is OK. Too often, we assume kids grieve like we adults do. They don't. All they want is happiness, however it happens. If you can find ways to remember the person you've lost while laughing and loving each other in the midst of grief, you're handling the situation well.

 

by the NewSpring Writing Team


Throughout the Bible, God gives us instructions on how to raise our children. Bullet Point Parenting shares God’s instructions on parenting and practical ways to put it into action. Read more Bullet Point Parenting posts here.

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