Parenting Tips: Helping Your Child Cope with Death

Coping with loss of a loved one is a difficult situation for adults and it may be even more difficult for children. So helping child cope with loss is important part of parenting.

Understanding Death

How you choose to explain the concept of death, and how your child will understand death will depend on their age, life experiences, and personality. Since each child is unique, he or she will cope with the loss of a loved one in different ways. Here are some helpful tips for moms thinking of how to explain the concept of death to their child.

If your child is between the ages of 5 and 6 they still have a very literal view of the world. So, try to use basic and concrete terms to explain death. For example, if the deceased person was elderly, such as a grandparent, who has passed away from illnesses. It maybe a good idea to explain the death as the body stopped working due to the illness. You may need to say, "Grandma or grandpa passed away because his or her body stopped working."

Since kids at this age and younger show resistance to accepting that all things, their grandparents, parents, friends, pets, and themselves will eventually die, they may still continue ask questions like, "Is grandma coming over again?" even if you used simple and concrete examples to explain the concept of death.

This may be frustrating for you, especially when you're trying to deal with your own grief of the lost one. But, remember to be honest about the death and encourage your child to ask questions to help learn how to cope with their grief.

Tips to Remember

Some good tips to keep in mind when explaining the concept of death to your child include:

Avoid euphemisms: Like telling your child the deceased person is sleeping, because your child will expect the person to come back, and when they don't, your child will feel betrayed or angry and won't be able to deal with her grief.

Show your grief: Some parents think if they hide their own grief, their child will be affected less by the loss of a loved one. This is not true. By letting your child see your emotions, they'll learn that it is okay to cry and express their feelings at the time of grief.

Provide honest and simple explanations: Although, kids between the ages of 6 and 10 will begin to grasp the concept of death, it's a good idea to still provide clear explanations to them. Since a 9-year old may still think if they make a wish or be good to their grandparents, their grandparents won't die.

Empathize with your child: If your teen loses her friend in a car accident, they may not want a literal explanation of death. But, will prefer to have some one listen to them, and support them as they grieve. Teens often explore the meaning of life when affected by the loss of a loved one.

Reaching out for more help

If you notice that your child appears depressed and withdrawn after weeks or months of losing a loved one, and you want to help them. Their grades in school are dropping, or they prefer to be alone than spending time doing the activities they once enjoyed, then reach out for more help.

By reaching out, you can help your child return to their normal self. Talk to your child's doctor or school guidance counselor to help your child cope with the loss. Joining support groups and reading books to better equip you with what to do to help your child deal with loss may also prove beneficial.

To find out how to help you child cope with the loss of a pet, click here.