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Help a Child Understand Death

Posted on 08 April 2016

How to Explain Death to a Child and Help Them Heal.

Children are exposed to loss more frequently than ever before. Through technology and daily television, children are no strangers to devastation and death. But this doesn’t mean that they understand it or know how to process it when it happens to someone close to them. If you are unsure how to handle death in regards to children, this short guide should help you navigate your way through this trying time.

Telling the Child

After a loved one has passed, the child should be informed immediately. You don’t want them to overhear it from someone else or think that something else has happened to their loved one. Someone who is close to the child should tell them, like a parent or grandparent.

Give them an honest explanation, based on their age. Younger children may not understand different diseases or situations but they should be told the truth. Avoid saying that someone is sleeping or went away. Explain that the loss is permanent.

What to Expect

Your child may not show a large range of emotions yet. It might take them quite some time to understand and accept what has happened. Just like an adult, they also must go through a grieving process.

Be sure to explain the funeral process to them. Let them know that you will be there for them and will answer any questions that they might have about the process. If this is the first time a child is dealing with a close death, the funeral process could be frightening. You should allow the child to attend the funeral but if they are very young, have a backup plan so that someone can care for them.

Signs to Look Out For

In the days and weeks following the funeral, there are a few signs that you should look out for. Every child is different and if your child is displaying these acts, it doesn’t mean that there is an issue. But for some, these acts show that they aren’t handling the death well and professional help might benefit them.

First, a child that asks for help with things that they didn’t used to, like going to the bathroom or getting dressed, this is a sign that they are unsure of the world around them. If they develop unreasonable fears or suddenly seem worried, anxious or nervous more often, they might be having difficulty adjusting to life after a loss.

Don’t be alarmed if your child is having trouble adjusting after a loss. With support and lots of love, they will get through it.

A child might not be ready for the responsibility of wearing cremation jewelry. But at Johnston’s Cremation Jewelry, the pendant can be filled years from now if desired. Presenting your child with a grown up piece of jewelry to wear when they’re older can be a treasured step in helping them heal.

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