How To Help Children Understand Death
Death is an event which fills the mind and soul with grief and sorrow. Talking about death is a very difficult, more so when you need to discuss it with a child. Children, however fragile and weak they may seem, they are the ones who are emotionally quite strong to cope up with the situation.
An important question that at times you encounter is how to help children understand death. Children’s capacity to understand death and the way you should approach them will vary according to the age of the child. Children below the age of 5 – 6 view the world in a very literal sense. So death should be explained in a very specific and concrete terms to them. Explain death by using phrases like “the person’s body stopped working and the doctors were unable to fix it”. You should also make them understand that “dying” or “dead” means the person’s body stopped working. Kids have no idea that everyone in this world will die one day. Hence, they keep on asking question about when the person will come back. Maintain patience and continue to reiterate that as the person has died he/ she will never come back.
Though children of ages about 6 – 10 still don’t understand that everyone will face death one day, yet they start to grasp the finality of death. It is best to give an accurate, simple, clear and honest explanation of death to kids of such ages.
As kids reach their teens a lot of things become clear to them. They start to understand that every human being is bound to die at a certain point of time in their life. A lot of questions start cropping up in their minds about mortality, vulnerability and they start searching more meaning in a death of a near one. At times, teens experience guilt when suddenly one of their peers dies. It is necessary for you to be by his/ her side and experience and share their grief.
Generally, this educational process starts with the death of a relative. In case your child experience the death of a pet before that, it is good to educate them during that time. So, when actually a close relative dies, the child is already in a position to cope up with the death. Helping children understand death is a crucial task as you are unaware about how a child would face the reality of death. Let us explore some possibilities which can make the process a bit easy.
Helping Children Understand Death