There will never be a right time to talk about a death in your family to your children. Especially if the bereavement is of someone who has a particular significance in your child’s life, this could be a parent, aunty, babysitter or a friend. Naturally, you desire to protect and shield your children away from events or scenarios you worry that could cause them harm. With the parent’s role being to primarily to protect their young from experiencing any psychological and physical damage so that they may grow into healthy and confidential individuals. However, this doesn’t mean hiding them from everything, in doing so, your children might find it more difficult to deal with scenarios such as death when they are in their adult years.
Death is a natural and inevitable part of life. However, this doesn’t withdraw how incredibly painful this is for your children and for you. The steps developed below provide some structure with the what to do’s and what not to do’s when broaching the subject and supporting your children through experiencing the death of a loved one.
With deaths occurring by illness, accidents and natural causes, there is an explanation for why the death in your family has happened, and your children should know this to help build an understanding of a reason of why someone has died. Attempt to be gentle and open with the explanation as much as possible, however, refrain from scaring or overwhelming the children with details. In cases of wrongful death, avoid laying too much importance on the negligent party to your children, instead, in your own time seek advice from the lawyers online here. The central premise to explain is that the relative/friend is no longer here, and tell them how it makes you feel so that your children don’t feel alone in their own feelings and are more willing to exchange how they are feeling too.
Although incredibly tricky, for children especially, continuity is critical for providing your children with the usual routine and structure they are used to. While coping with a traumatic event and a significant change in their life, children need some stability to boost their morale and to encourage the notion that life should and will move on. Remaining a part of daily activities such as sports clubs, maintaining existing friendships and relationships, attending school and so on will enable your children to gain perspective, maintain their commitments, exhibit reliability, and speak with different people about what has happened in their life.
No two children are the same in their response to death. Some may be extremely quiet and a little withdrawn, others may want to talk about memories of their loved one, this is your opportunity to listen and share your memories too, and some may be highly emotive by crying or showing signs of anger. Either way, there is no wrong or right way to grieve, and each child’s actions towards the death should be supported. The same is true for you during your experience you may wish to cry, be quiet and so on. However, concerning withdrawing, an attempt should be made by you as the parent to refrain from closing a connection between you and your children, because this is the time they need your support and love the most.
By taking the points above into consideration for approaching your children about a death in the family or amongst friends, you are making the right choice in being open and honest, maintaining their routine, and accepting and supporting their decision to grieve to help them process and work through this painful time.