How to Have Difficult Conversations About Death With Your Children

man and boy talking

Written by: Guest Contributor

Published: May 17, 2023

Death is an inescapable facet of existence, and discussing it can be a tough prospect. Although it’s not simple, it’s crucial to broach the subject with your kids to help them understand and process the various emotions they’ll feel when a loved one dies. To have those difficult yet necessary conversations, make use of the following tips.

1) Prepare for the Conversation:

To communicate effectively with your child, it’s essential to plan what you want to say and how you’ll say it. Anticipate your child’s questions and concerns, and prepare responses. Also, think about how you’ll handle the situation if your child gets emotional or overwhelmed during the conversation.


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2) Choose an Appropriate Setting:

The atmosphere in which you have these conversations is important. When possible, choose a place without distractions and where you can speak in private. If your child is comfortable, it might also be helpful to talk while doing an activity together, as this can help them feel more at ease.

3) Respect Your Child’s Understanding:

It’s normal if your child struggles to grasp certain ideas related to death. Use simple language to help them comprehend and manage their emotions. If they seem confused or upset, give them space and try explaining at a later point. 

4) Give Them Space to Process:

Death is an incredibly personal experience, and different people handle it differently. Give your child space to process their emotions, whatever they may be. Offer comfort in whatever way feels right for them, whether that’s talking through their feelings or simply listening.

5) Utilize Resources: 

There are many resources available that can help you discuss death with your children. Look for books, videos, and websites tailored to their age range that can help you broach the subject. Depending on your child’s needs, you may also want to consider speaking with a professional who specializes in grief.

6) Let Them Remember:

Creating mementos can be an essential part of helping your children remember loved ones that have passed. Consider visiting the cemetery or gravesite, planting a tree in their honor, or even getting vases for cemetery grave markers to display flowers at their memorial site. 

7) Show Them How to Cope:

One of the best ways to support a child through loss is by demonstrating healthy coping skills. Allow them to see you grieve in a healthy way and explain why it’s important to express emotions. You can also encourage them to participate in other activities that might be therapeutic, such as writing or drawing.

Discussing death with children can be daunting, but it’s essential to help them understand and manage their emotions. You can effectively navigate this challenging topic with your children with suitable preparation and attitude. A key approach is to express love, be honest, and be patient during the conversation.

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