The Dreaded D’s of Parenting-Discussing Death

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If you’re a parent then you’ve probably already discussed one of the dreaded D’s with your child. Death, drugs, divorce, and dating are the most feared discussions you will have with your child. No matter how you avoid the dreaded D’s they will happen and you need to be prepared. Today, I’m discussing how to discuss death with your child.

Death. No parent wants to discuss the subject of death with their child. It’s one of the most difficult subjects and one of the hardest you’ll ever have to face. Whether it’s the death of a beloved pet or loved one, death is not pleasant.

If your child is a toddler, death is more difficult to explain. I’ve had to talk about it twice with my grandson and never could find the right words. A toddler doesn’t understand the concept of death. He or she probably knows about Heaven, but doesn’t quite grasp the actual fact of death.

When your child’s pet dies, it’s a fairly simple routine. Of course there are tears, but there’s also a make-shift funeral and off they go to play. No biggie. Death is soon forgotten.

When a loved one dies, it’s a different and more daunting task of explaining death to a toddler or any age child. When a loved one passes away, most younger children have a mental picture of sleep. They want to know when the person will wake up. How do you find the right words to explain death?

Death isn’t an easy subject to discuss, but depending on the age of your child there are ways of bringing up the subject without going into too many details.

Toddlers only need to know the basics. Don’t get too technical with your child, but don’t avoid the subject either.

Younger children probably know the difference if life and death. Depending on the child, be open about death, let your child express his or her feelings, do hid from the subject.

Older children know what death is and are better equip to handle the subject, but you still need to have a discussion with your child. It’s better to talk about it instead of withdrawing into silence. Let them be involved in the process. Let your child know it’s okay to cry or be angry.

As a parent, the subject of death can’t be avoided, but you can get through the awkwardness and talk with your child about it. There will be tears and a lot of unwanted emotions, but it’s better to be honest about death than hide behind your feelings.




Comments

  1. Jennifer says

    We’ve had to deal with this recently… My grandmother was admitted to long term care due to a stroke that she had in July, and her diagnosis was bleak. We brought our girls (2 yrs & 4 yrs) to visit her in the hospital, but they couldn’t understand why she was there and not at home. Turns out, she’s vastly improved (and is even expected to be discharged from the long term care facility later this week!), but I know that at some point in the future we are going to have to have this talk and I’m not looking forward it it – at all. These are some great tips. Thank you.

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