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Children experience loss differently than adults, but like adults, require support as they navigate the waters of grief. These suggestions can help you support your littlest loved ones while they try to understand what death really means and accept the changes it causes in their lives.
1. Use words they understand.
When explaining a death, use short, simple words to ensure your child understands exactly what happened and what he or she can expect.
2. Be patient with questions.
Younger children are likely to have many, many questions about the loss of a loved one, the afterlife, the funeral, and other aspects of loss. Do your best to answer their questions patiently and truthfully.
3. Encourage them to express their feelings.
Talking about feelings can be a very important aspect of grieving and healing. Encourage your children to talk about the way the loss has made them feel and then validate those feelings when they express them.
4. Focus on positive memories.
When conversing with your child about their loved one, encourage them to remember their favorite times together and celebrate their life. This can help shift the focus from loss to love and happier times.
5. Share your beliefs about the afterlife.
Talk to your child about what happens to their loved one’s soul after they pass on.
6. Offer healthy distractions.
While it’s important to express emotions, it can be damaging to dwell on those negative emotions for an extended period of time, especially for young children. Acknowledge the way that they’re feeling, provide comfort, and then offer an exciting activity that can be both calming and distracting, like time at the park, a coloring book, or a good movie together.
7. Prepare them for the services.
Explain to your child what he or she can expect at the funeral and burial (if there is one) and why these services are so important for those who attend.
Although it’s often tempting to shield children from the impacts of death, empowering them to face this natural life event with bravery and openness can nurture their ability to cope with and overcome challenges throughout life.
To learn more about death and dying, get support with the process, or begin planning services, contact the compassionate team at Mountain View Funeral Home and Cemetery today.