Ten tips for talking to kids about death

  • Death and grief are difficult concepts for everyone and we each go through a different process. Kids also have their individual responses and they can surprise you with their directness. A few tips on how to talk to kids about death:

     

    1) Say that s/he died. Listen, answer questions, and tell them that they might feel sad or angry, or have other surprising emotions in the coming days, and that’s normal

    2) Use simple words when talking to them. Don’t use euphemisms, don’t be afraid to use the words “death” and “dead”

    3) Explain to them what is going to happen at the memorial or funeral, and the plans for the coming days

    4) It’s okay to say you don’t know what happens after death, if you don’t have a clear vision

    5) You can answer complex questions by first asking them what they think. It can help to clarify where they’re coming from or what their concerns are

    6) They may not say much at first. It’s likely that they’ll have more to say and more questions later on. Don’t force it

    7) Talk about and share your memories of your loved one

    8) Make time for them when they follow up or have questions

    9) Give kids a role in the ceremony: read a poem or share a memory

    10) Watch the movie Coco and other kids' movies about loss

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