There are plenty of topics you, or any parent, is quite afraid to discuss with their children. One of them is death. How to know what should you say or how to know how will they react and what to do if they will react very badly? That is why written this article, so hopefully, after you will read it, it will be easier for you to deal with the unpleasant situation.
As simple as possible
Every child is able to cope with any information if he is told the truth, but only in his age appropriate way. However, it has to be described in the simplest terms possible. Little ones are very concrete in their thinking, that is why extra words that soften the news for all of us make it too much confusing for children. Try to be as clear and concrete as you possibly can.
Separate simple from serious sickness
If someone from your family has a disease like cancer, for example, it is very important to give it a name. Just your little one would not believe that anyone who is sick is going to die. Separating simple sickness and serious ones is very important for your child to understand that there are some diseases people may cure and some that might lead to death. Reassure kids that most of the people live a pretty long life and only sometimes it happens that a person is so badly hurt or so very sick that his body stops working.
Suicide is possible to explain too
If anyone has committed suicide in your little one’s life and there is no way you can avoid explaining it, there is also a way to deal with it. The exact same principle applies to it as explaining about a death from sickness. Make sure to keep it simple. Tell your child that person felt very sad and had no hope. Explain that sometimes, when people feel sad and hopeless, they might do something to their body to make it stop working and after that they die. Yes, it should upset your child much more, but it is better to explain him right away, than lie or hide it from it.
Love will be there for him all the time
There is quite a possibility that children might start worrying about who else might die. Be sure to not promise that you will never die, because it is an obvious lie. Instead of it you could remind your little one that you want to be there and you plan to be there to take care of him all the time and that there will always be someone to love and care for him. Whatever happens, love will lead him whole his life.
Answer questions softly and with support
Do not avoid questions, just answer questions as they come up and even though there might be an awful ones, from how the person died to the spiritual aspects of death. Be aware that you should always use age appropriate words and to not overwhelm your child with too much information at one time. Also, do not forget this is a topic that you can return to again and again. And it is totally okay if you do not know all the answers. The main part of being honest about this topic is being upfront about what we do not know. It is pretty common that child’s concerns fall into thoughts if perhaps he caused it or maybe if he can get it too, is there any way if he could cure it. Reassure your little one that death is not anybody’s fault. In this period of their life they are going to need a lot of support.