Explaining Death To Children

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I am writing this article with the intention of helping those parents and kids who have suffered or are going through tough times owing to the death of a family member. It is a sensitive phase and children are affected the most. They remain perplexed on the sudden disappearance of one of their beloved family member. It is tough for them so is it for other family members too. Especially, when the kids are too young and they don’t know how to cope up with the situation. Again the age of the children matters, if the child is in the teenage phase, it is still possible to explain. In fact most of the times, the kids are aware at this age. But when the kids are too young say somewhere around 4 years or so then it needs to be explained with love and affection.

“Mama, what happened to Daadu, why is he lying lifeless, he isn’t talking to anyone and sleeping since long. I am trying to wake him up but look at him. Is he not hungry? Does he not want to have breakfast?” Radhika bombarded all these questions to her mom. She was pretty close to her Daadu and was inquisitive about such typical behavior from his Daadu. She is 4 years old and is unable to get the hold of such a situation.

I believe that the age group between 2-6 is such that the child thinks Death is just a temporary phase and the family member has gone for a short visit to some other destination. I am saying this with experience as whenever I have spoken to kids of this age, they tell me this thing. That’s because they are explained things in this manner and there is no harm in such an explanation. It is done keeping in mind the emotional feelings of young kids.

*  At the age group between 6-11, they tend to understand that the member will not be back and has been departed from this world.

*  Sometimes death is explained to the kids in such a way that they tend to feel scared in taking every small step. They tend to relate this death to their own parents. “What if my mom or dad dies?” This separation phase imbibes negative thoughts in them and inculcates fear, anxiety, less confidence about moving ahead in life.

*  Death should be explained to them in simple terms. Don’t overload them with unnecessary information like describing about the angel of death, Hell fire etc. Give them enough space and freedom to ask questions. After a time when you feel they are getting deeper into it, try to divert them .

*  Incase they fear about the death of any of their parent, try to convince them that most of the people live for long. They become old and then death happens.

*  Ensure them that we as parents are taking enough care of ourselves to remain healthy and live long. Still in case if something goes wrong with them, there are other family members who would take care of them.

*  Avoid unnecessary confusions like- they have gone to a better place. It is full of happiness, gardens, roses, good food You never know the child might develop affinity towards that phase and might try to carry on actions which would take his/her life.

*  Explain the child that the family member did not die because of anyone. It happened to him/her on its own.

*  When such tragedy struck in any home, try to maintain normal schedule of the child in order to avoid any further anxiety or fear. This would also enable a reduced attention from their end and they would ask lesser questions.

*  If you feel that your child isn’t ready for a final goodbye to the deceased, you may avoid him/her to face such a situation.

The children need to be convinced that they are safe and there is a long life waiting ahead of them.

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One thought on “Explaining Death To Children

  1. Useful information. One can’t imagine what runs through in child’s mind. It can be really traumatic if not handled delicately.

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