How To Help Your Child Cope With Death

Losing a loved one is always a very hard and emotional experience. As parents, you might struggle with healing from your own grief, while also supporting your children. It's helpful to know how your child might respond and what you can do to strengthen them as much as possible.

Here are a few ways that Stanford Children's Health reports children may respond:

  • Denial, shock, confusion and anger
  • Inability to sleep or nightmares
  • Fear of being alone
  • Stomachaches and headaches
  • Guilt over failure to prevent the loss
  • Inventing games about dying
  • Reverting to outgrown behaviors (bedwetting, "baby talk", or thumb-sucking)

No matter what individual response your child may experience, it's always important to give them the time they need to heal. Don't rush the process. However, there are some things you can do as a parent to support them during this time.

  • Use simple and clear words to talk about death. For example, do say, "I'm sad to tell you that Grandma died today" instead of saying things like, "Grandma passed away", or "Grandma went to sleep". Using such phrases could confuse your child or give them unnecessary fear.
  • Help them process their emotions by naming what they're feeling. Talk through their feelings with them and reassure them their emotions are normal and important. In addition, don't be afraid to express your own feelings in front of them. When appropriate, allow them to see your grief as well.
  • Talk through what's going to happen next. Explain what's going to happen at the funeral and who is going to be there. Help them visualize the next step so they aren't overwhelmed. Never force them to participate in something in which they aren't comfortable.
  • Help your child remember the person they lost. Let them use their agency to choose how to memorialize the deceased. They could draw pictures or tell favorite stories of their loved one. Recalling these happy memories helps replace negative feelings with positive ones.

Each child is different and will need different care and attention. Use your instinct in determining out how to best help each one. If you need assistance or have any questions, never hesitate to seek professional help.


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Wednesday, 07 December 2022

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