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Tuesday, June 23, 2009

random tuesday thoughts: helping your child deal with death


I got some news that my uncle's father passed away and immediately my heart began beating quickly and my palms grew sweaty. This is a typical reaction for me whenever the question of death surrounds me. Losing someone you love is never an easy situation to live through. And it got me thinking of ways to help prepare your child (my children) for the death of a loved one.

Death is a natural part of our life and children experience death and relate to it in many ways. So how can we prepare our kids for death?

How can we teach them to cope and understand?

The first step is not to be afraid to discuss death with your kids. Answer their questions openly and honestly (keeping their age in mind) as to how much information you give. Make sure the information is accurate and not misleading.

I remember when I was younger and my girlfriend's father passed away from Cancer. Her mother told her that her daddy was sick and God took him to heaven. We were seven at the time. My friend had nightmares for weeks thinking God was a bad person coming down and snatching people who got sick and taking them away. She was terrified to get a cold.

Be straightforward with your answers when dealing with death or illness and dying. Matter of fact is better. Daddy is sick and is going to die. Most children even from a young age experience death on some level will better cope and understand if you are honest with them.

Seeing a grasshopper get squashed. Losing a family pet. Or having someone they love no longer here anymore can affect children before you know it. Making sure your children are aware of death and what it means will lessen the fears they might have over their own demise or yours as parents.


Older kids can become fascinated with death. Not discussing it can lead to problems. When my husband and I lost our first child together, our son Jake was only seven at the time. He blamed himself because one day he wrestled with mommy and thought because of that he caused me to lose the baby.

Grief and guilt can surround kids along with their fears. Make sure to contact the school if your child has lost a loved one. One of the worst things is for a kid to go back to school with all these sad feelings and have nobody acknowledge their feelings. Keep up to date on their progress, making sure grades aren't slipping or fighting isn't happening. And counseling can also help if a child is grieving over the loss of a loved one.

What are some coping skills to help children in dealing with death?

Reading a book about death before it happens can help. Like the book below which is one of my favorites. It's sad and it's by Robert Munch called I love you Forever.


Books are a great way to experience together the emotional questions related to death with your kids. But there are also other ways to help kids cope.

When another girlfriend of mine husband passed away. She bought a bunch of balloons. She got her five year old and seven year old to draw pictures to daddy and write poems or letters. She filled the balloons with helium and attached the things the kids had done to communicate with their dad.

They went to the park and together they released the balloons sending them to their dad. This scenario is now repeated every year close to his birthday or when the kids miss him. It's a great way for the kids to say what they want so only their daddy can see.

My husband and I did the same thing with our son when we lost our child. Jake made a poem and wrote to the baby how sorry he was for not getting to know it. It was hard for me at the time as I was grieving badly.

But as a mother I forced myself to go along with it and actually wrote a poem to the baby myself. We released them in some old bottles we had, putting the notes and pictures inside and watching them float down the stream.

No matter what you do in helping your child cope with the loss or losing a loved one. Just remember each of us deals with death differently. Being honest and answering your kids questions will help put them at ease. Not showing any emotion might cause your child to think you don't care about the situation.

And the most important thing you can do for your child in dealing with death is teach them how to live, how to love and always respect the people important to them in their lives, because you never how long they might here for.

The books shown above can all be found at under their respective titles. You can also find more books at your local library, children schools or bookstore. If you partake in Random Tuesday Thoughts head on over to UN mom and post and post your link here as well in the comment section.


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