The end of a life is never easy on those who care about the deceased individual, whether it is an animal or human, but for children, the concept of death can be incredibly difficult to grasp. But what can you do to make death easier on children?
What Can You Do to Make Death Easier on Children?
Although you can never make this process entirely easy, there are ways that you can try to help children to understand what has happened, as well as to reassure them and help them to cope with any emotions that may arise. Further understanding can then come with age, to help prepare them for adulthood and later life.
Items that a child can keep that help them to still feel a connection to the person or animal who died can be a great way of helping a child to cope with the negative emotions associated with death. With younger children, a soft toy that they can snuggle up to can help provide some comfort. When it comes to older children, they may prefer a memento that they can take into adulthood with them. This could be a framed photograph of the person, or them with the person. Teenage girls in particular might appreciate a butterfly ring as a bereavement gift so that they know their loved one is always with them, and can remain stylish while remembering.
Although it may not be a pleasant discussion, it is usually better for a child to be prepared as much as possible prior to a death, than to be shocked by its occurrence. It is important that you use the proper wording regarding this, as otherwise children may not be able to grasp the reality of the situation. In addition to this, terms such as ‘up in the sky’, ‘gone to sleep’ or ‘gone away’ may make them think that the person is merely absent, rather than physically gone forever. While more painful, it is better for them to understand that they are not coming back, and to grieve properly, than to continue hoping.
Share Your Emotions To Make Death Easier On Children
While it can be tempting to hide your own emotions about the death of a loved one in an attempt to be more available for your child, research has found that this can be a bad idea. Being open about your emotions can help to strengthen the bond between you and your child, as well as to show them that it is alright to feel sad or angry when someone passes away. In addition to this, by displaying emotions in a healthy way, your child may try to emulate this, which can give them better emotional management in the future. Likewise, apologising sincerely for any outbursts of anger at the situation can also show how a person should behave.
It can be extremely difficult to try and help your child grieve, especially when you yourself are also grieving. By using facts and showing that you love and understand their situation, you can help to bring everyone closer together, and get through these sad occasions as a family.