The death of a loved one is a difficult and upsetting time for anyone. It is especially hard for a child. The kids pages are designed to help children deal with the death of someone special in their lives. This page is to help you help your children.
It is natural for you to want to protect your children. You may think that if they see you upset, this will upset them. But seeing you upset helps children to understand that it is OK to show their feelings. If children don’t see you upset they may think that you don’t care, that you didn’t love the person who has died. You may find that they don’t want you to see them cry because they don’t want to upset you.
This can be one of the most difficult things to do. Be honest. Encourage questions but be honest in your answers – if you don’t know then say so and try and find the answer together. Some questions don’t have answers but they may still need to be talked through.
Try to involve children in some of the decisions and planning – especially with the funeral and ways of saying goodbye. Children could help choose music and flowers, older children may want to choose or write something to be read at the funeral. They may want to help carry the coffin or find items for a display.
A list of useful books for children to read on their own or with you. Coming soon…
Don’t be afraid to talk to your children about what has happened. Talk about the person who has died and the special things that you did together. This is important at the time and also as time passes. If you stop talking about the person who has died children can think that you have forgotten them or that you don’t care.
Remember that you are grieving. Don’t be too hard on yourself or expect too much from yourself or your children. There are no rules. Remember to find time for yourself doing things you want to do – to remember or to forget.
Bodies and Funerals
Some adults don’t think that children should visit the body or go to the funeral, they may feel that it is too upsetting or frightening. Children need to say goodbye and most children would like to be able to make their own decision. Help children by letting them know that you will be happy with their choice – whatever it is. Give them any information that they need to help them choose – if you don’t know answers to their questions then talk to other family members or your funeral director. Let them know that they can change their minds. You may want someone else to go with them to visit the body or to look after them on the day of the funeral if you don’t feel able to do this yourself.