Love, Life and Loss: How To Explain Death To Your Little Ones
The pain and heartache which comes with losing a loved one is often a subject which is shielded from your children. We want to protect them from feeling the raw sadness that we are experiencing, but we also want to be honest with them about tough circumstances. Motherhood doesn’t come with a manual, so it can often be really tricky to approach situations like this. You know your child better than anyone so use your instincts and approach these difficult times in your own unique way. If you need a guiding hand then these pointers will assist you in how to deal with certain aspects.
Involving and Including
Firstly, your little one is going to notice changes in your behavior. You will be busy sorting out memorial arrangements, belongings and you will be surrounded by family members that aren’t usually around. If they are old enough then allow them to be involved with the preparations such as going to the funeral home or choosing flowers. Find a job that is suitable for their age range. Try not to shut them out as they will feel even more confused about what is happening. Sometimes you can explain things better when you actually get them involved in the process in a very small way. They might then feel more confident to ask questions and get the answers they need.
Trusting and Truthful
Hiding details from your children can cause them to feel distanced from you as the trust is broken. You always tell your little ones to be honest, so you need to practise what you preach and show them how to be truthful in any situation. Don’t leave them guessing and trying to figure out what has happened in your family because they might start to come up with imaginative scenarios which will leave them wondering for a long time. Be open with them, let them lead the conversation and encourage them to ask questions so that you can gage exactly what they already know.
Forthrightness and Feelings
We all want to put on a brave face for our children, but you want to teach them that it is okay for them to express their emotions. If you want your child to be honest about their feelings then you need to do the same and show them how to be open with how they are coping. Children who aren’t allowed to grieve properly can build up a disguised tension within them and can lead to long term emotional problems that are even more difficult to resolve. Be sympathetic and receptive to all of their queries; using simple, age appropriate answers which they will be able to relate to.
By sharing the process with your children, opening up to them and expressing your feelings you will be giving them the freedom to grieve and ask questions at their own pace. Make sure they feel loved and supported every step of the way. They will soon have processed these difficult feelings and be well prepared for any losses in the future.