How to Explain the Loss of a Loved One to a Child

Losing someone you love can be truly devastating for anyone, let alone a whole family. Everyone is dealing with their emotions and feelings, yet somehow life must carry on as normal – that’s tricky. to say the least. When an important family member or close friend dies, as human beings we need time to grieve. Yes, it’s a difficult subject, but one we should consider nevertheless as there will be a point in our child’s life where they’ll have to learn about death.

Pensive Pumpkin” (CC BY-SA 2.0) by russteaches

The grieving process has no given time, so it’s important not to put any pressure on anyone. Everyone grieves differently, while for some people it could take months, for others it could take years. We do not really “get over” the death of a loved one. We just learn to accept what has happened as time goes by. 

Explaining the death of a family member to your child can be one of the hardest things to do. Our natural parental instinct is to protect our children, shield them from unpleasant emotions and shelter them from any harm. Yet sadly, sometimes they have to experience bereavement nevertheless. Children learn from a young age that people die, so explaining to them about a family death is not impossible to do. It’s a sensitive subject which needs to be handled carefully.

 “Grandma has become an angel in heaven”

angel’s wings” (CC BY 2.0) by Flo’s shots 4 me

A grandparent is just like a surrogate parent to a child. They love them and nurture them from the day they are born, treating them much like their own child and loving them the same. The grief that your child will feel when they lose a grandparent may be as intense as the loss you feel. In your child’s eyes, their grandparents are older and wiser versions of you, tremendously loving and always respected. If your child is young, keep the news as simple as possible. They do not need to know the details of how they died, they just need to know what has happened. Overloading a child with facts and details during this sad and emotional time will make it even harder for them.

Explaining to your child that a close friend or family member has died may feel like a very final thing for them, so there are ways of softening the conversation. Take some advice from the clairvoyant medium approach: during their medium readings, clairvoyants make use of their gift to converse with people who have passed over to the other side. They can give clear detail that shows that the person who has died is around you in spirit and able to see what’s going on in your life. So, explaining to your child that “grandma is in heaven but she can still see us, so it’s okay to talk to her” may be very comforting for them. It helps your child tunderstand that perhaps dying isn’t so final and that our loved ones can live on, especially in our memories. Saying a little prayer together with your child can also help them to be open about their feelings and learn that it’s okay to still talk about the person who has died – as well as talk to them, think about them and of course miss them.

“It’s okay to be sad darling – I am too”

Lulù e la mamma” (CC BY 2.0) by mariagraziamontagnari.net

Most importantly, it’s vital to explain to your child that the sadness they are feeling is perfectly normal. If this is their first experience of death, it can be incredibly overwhelming – so they need to know that this sadness is natural. Tell them that you also feel sad and sometimes cry, they need to know that it’s important to experience and even show their feelings, instead of hiding them away. Some children do not want to show their emotions around the family when everyone is sad because they instinctively don’t want people to worry about them. Try and encourage them to share their feelings with you so they know they’re not alone, even if it means having a good cry and hug together. The message should be that the loved one who has passed away would wants the family to be close, and is happy to “see” family members support each other.

 Remember: when a loved one dies, nobody expects us to be strong…

It’s very important that children learn to express their emotions at these times, as burying them or hiding away will prolong the grieving process and could affect how they deal with sadness as adults. At the same time, try not to constantly hide away if you need to cry. Setting a good example by expressing how you are dealing with your feelings will help them to be open about theirs. Remember, when a loved one dies, nobody expects us to be strong. From these sad times, children can learn how to deal with negative emotions in a healthy way – and they also learn empathy and understanding.

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