How to Deal (Talking to kids about death)

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One of the harder moments in the tragic day I referred to yesterday was going with the father to tell the siblings that their brother had died. I went back to the house with the father I was with him when he told the 8 year old sister 10 and 3 year old brothers. It was so sad, I was very proud of the father he told them strait up what happened was compassionate and factual. I had never been faced with something like this before. I had no idea that this was the beginning of a journey. On the car ride to the house I began thinking how do you talk to kids about death? I think there is things we can do to prepare our kids because the sad fact of life is people we love at some point will die. Here is my list so far.

Pointers on talking to kids about death

1. Don’t LIE tell them the truth. It is so easy for us to make things up that may even sound plausible don’t do it. For example grandpa is “on vacation in florida”. Don’t do it.

2. Use moments to teach. When a pet dies use that opportunity to walk your child through the steps of healthy grief.

3. Pay close attention to what kids say and don’t say.

4. Don’t give pat answers because they are kids. If you don’t know say you don’t know. The 10 year old brother to the boy who died asked me this “God can do anything pray for my brother to come back to life. God can do it because he can do anything.”

5. Seek appropriate help from books and professionals

6. Use plain age appropriate language.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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4 thoughts on “How to Deal (Talking to kids about death)

  1. This is great. As a parent, I'm frequently tempted to respond to my kids with 'pat' answers like, "Don't worry, honey. That won't happen." The fact is, I have no idea what will happen from one moment to the next. These are great opportunities to teach my kids that we can't choose when we die, but we can choose how we live. Thanks for this series. I'm tucking this stuff away for future use.

  2. Gina,

    Thanks for reading. Great point about choosing how to live. Pat answers are easier for now. But I think that often they can do more damage in the long run. I know that one of my huge pet peeves is when parents tell kids what is easier for them to say at the moment. Kids understand more than we realize. I will never forget the look on the face of that 3 year old boy when he realized that his brother wasn't coming back. Very sad. I think that many times Christians are much more emotionally unhealthy because we feel we can't doubt or question God. But that's a post for another day.

  3. This is great. As a parent, I’m frequently tempted to respond to my kids with ‘pat’ answers like, “Don’t worry, honey. That won’t happen.” The fact is, I have no idea what will happen from one moment to the next. These are great opportunities to teach my kids that we can’t choose when we die, but we can choose how we live. Thanks for this series. I’m tucking this stuff away for future use.

  4. Gina,

    Thanks for reading. Great point about choosing how to live. Pat answers are easier for now. But I think that often they can do more damage in the long run. I know that one of my huge pet peeves is when parents tell kids what is easier for them to say at the moment. Kids understand more than we realize. I will never forget the look on the face of that 3 year old boy when he realized that his brother wasn’t coming back. Very sad. I think that many times Christians are much more emotionally unhealthy because we feel we can’t doubt or question God. But that’s a post for another day.