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Talking To Children About Death: What I Have Learned

1 Jul 2014 – 04:37 PM EDT

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Talking about death to our children is never going to be easy, no matter how many children we have and how many times we have the conversation. We love our kids and want to protect them, but they need to understand this major part of life to some degree.

The more our kids can turn to us and ask us about this topic whenever they feel like it, the more they will be able to cope when it affects their own life. Kids are already exposed to the idea of death at an early age in fairy tales, movies, school plays, cartoons and possibly from a family pet that has passed on.

From my own experience, it is always difficult to talk to my kids about this topic because I don’t have all the answers myself. As a parent, I know it is important to be open and honest with my children as much as possible. Here are some tips that I found helpful with regards to my own personal experience and talking to my kids about death.

When We Don’t Have The Answers

I know this was one of the main reasons I didn’t want to talk about death with my children. Since I do not clearly understand myself, how can I teach my kids about it? I found out that my kids actually respected the fact that I was honest when I told them I don’t understand death fully either. This lead to an open discussion about death offering room for further understanding. I can tell my children the basics of death, but when it comes to ‘why it has to happen?’, I am a lost child myself.

Understanding The Grieving Process

After two of our pets died, I realized how differently we all show our grieving. One child was running around all hyper like nothing happened, while another put her head deep in a book and zoned out for a while. I now know that there is no ideal form of grieving and we all release worry, stress and sadness in a variety of ways.

The Upsetting Conversation

No one wants to talk about dark and gloomy things to their kids. Who enjoys seeing their child fall apart, cry and get down in the dumps? This was unavoidable when Grandma passed on and I had to sit down with each of my kids and talk about it openly and honestly. Yes, there was shock, tears, sad faces and emotional outbursts, all of which were fully understandable.

Personally, I want my kids to know that life is not always perfect so they will know how to take care of themselves, emotionally, mentally and physically as they grow into adults. Our kids need to be told the truth about death so they can grow and learn from it. From this day forward, I will answer all of my children’s questions about death as honestly as I can so they will always feel respected.