Loss of a loved one is overwhelming to an adult and definitely even more for a child. Though we know death is inevitable, and the most definite in life, it is still difficult for most to talk about it. And having to start a death conversation with a kid is even more challenging.
Here are some points that can help you to talk to your kids about death:
Prepare them for the eventual
Making death conversation a norm even before death has occurred makes it easier for you and your child to start the talk and understand the idea of death. Teach them what it means to be dead by sharing on the life cycle of insects or fruits. The more you talk to your kid about death and what it means, the less fear and confusion they will have when death happens in the family.
Tell the truth, use simple and clear words
Try to tell them honestly even though it may sound blunt “Ah Gong is dead, her body is no longer working, and so she will not be able to eat and play with you anymore.” Answer any questions they have to what you’d said. If you do not know the answer, just let them know that you do not know too. It’s important to show them your true feelings for them to understand why you are crying and feeling pain, and learn to mourn from you.
Different people grief differently, including kids. Let them grief in their own way, but be there to listen and comfort them, or cry together with them. Its ok to cry, it helps in healing and to move on.
Let your child be involved in the funeral
Let your child help in preparing your loved one’s clothing or music to be played at the wake. But before bringing your child to the wake, you have to brief your kid on what to expect at a funeral. Let them know that there will be many people coming to visit their loved one, everyone will be talking and sharing stories of their loved one. Because this is a sad farewell, there will be a lot of hugs and cries.
Help your kid heal from the loss and memorialize the person
Grief is a process that takes time. Continue to check in and be available for your kid to talk to and share their feelings. Help them heal by remembering their loved one with love, and let these loving memories bring good feelings to help them move on with life. When they are ready to talk more about your loved one, help them remember the person. Look through a photo album together, listen to their loved one’s favourite song, or draw a picture of their loved one.
With time, you and your kids together will move on and heal from the loss.