Helping Your Child Deal With The Death Of A Loved One

The death of a loved one is an appalling phase one may ever come across. It’s literally hard to digest the fact and move on while struggling with your own life to not fall apart. While you yourself might be battling some deep emotional issues, it can become difficult to explain to a child what death is and help him cope up with the situation.

Loss of a friend, a parent or some near-distant relative can be an unsettling experience for kids, with them having a limited understanding of the actual situation. In such a period, be ready to explain your child about the loss and help them express their feelings instead of hushing it away.

1. Understanding the child’s view

Get to know if your child really understands what death is or not. Different age groups perceive death differently and you need to consider this age factor. While children below 5 may see it as a temporary situation, teenagers on the other hand fully understand it and may express their grief aggressively.

  • 5-6 years old

Young kids often do not have a definite understanding of what death is. They aren’t aware of the fact that eventually everyone meets an end, so you may have a hard time explaining them the situation.

Do not use words that may confuse the child- something like “he went away” or “may not wake up now”. Use definite sentences and explain softly that the person died and is not going to come back. The body stops working when someone dies and it will not work again.

  • 6-12 years old

This age group kids are aware of the understanding of death and grasp the consequences. They may relate it to a spirit or ghost of some kind and may associate it with feelings of guilt and insecurity.

For example, a child may blame himself for behaving badly and leading to someone’s death.

Be clear and honest with them and encourage them to express their feelings. Explain their doubts and help to remove any negative feelings of guilt or clinginess.

  • 13-18 years old

A teen can fully grasp the situation and may be undergoing an emotional turmoil. Generally, they may express it in forms of extreme aggressiveness and reckless behavior, often turning to substance use. Keep a check on the kids as their behavior might start to bother those around them. Encourage them to express their feelings and start by sharing their grief.

2. Bid Final Goodbye

It may not seem like a good idea to take children to funerals. Instead of making the decision yourself, let the kids decide for themselves. Saying a final goodbye to their loved one may help them to accept the fact that the person is not going to come back and may help them to move on faster. Small kids, on the other hand, can be taken to memorial services to get them a better view of the situation. Though, you may avoid them to be taken to burial or cremation grounds.

3. Remembering the Person

You might have seen situations where the emotions are just swept under the carpet. Hushing down the feelings may seem to be a lot easier than facing them. Although, this is not at all encouraged, especially if you have a kid around. Encourage them to simply express their grief. Also, small actions like trying to avoid crying in front of kids may trigger negative reactions and they may end up hiding their feelings. You should encourage your kids to openly talk about the person. It will help avoid an atmosphere of tension and may also help in sharing the feelings.

4. Professional help

If the behavior of your child gets extreme in any form, do not hesitate to get professional help. Suicide cases are quite common among teenagers in this type of situations. Get help and prevent any further damage from happening.

Categories: Behavior,Parenting

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