Death is something that just happens. We are born and we die but that doesn’t make it any easier on your family knowing that. When my family was faced with the upcoming death of an older family member I was shattered and so I wondered, how could I help prepare my kids for the death of a beloved family member? My grandpa is older and has been having lots of health problems. At his last doctor’s visit, the doctor told him that he should start going to church. In other words, start going to church to make peace with God because your time is coming soon.
My kids love my grandpa (their great grandfather) and so I know that they’ll feel his loss deeply, as will the entire family. My grandpa is a jack of all trades kind of guy who can start up a conversation with anyone. You may not be able to truly prepare your child for the death of a family member but if you know that your family member is going to pass on soon because they are old or have a sickness, it won’t hurt to start the process of getting your child to understand that death is a natural part of life. This article will detail a few suggestions on how you can try to prepare your child for the death of a loved one.
#1: Explain Death in General
How you explain death to a child depends on their age. If you have a young child, you need to do it using words that they will really understand. There are also several books on the market for kids that talk about death. The most important thing to remember is that you don’t want to scare your kids. You need to ease into it, let them know that death is a natural thing that happens in life and while it may make people sad it is nothing to fear. You don’t want your child to get scared that someone is going to die if someone they know has a common cold.
#2: Be Honest
While you don’t want to overwhelm them with honestly, you don’t want to lie to your child either. Don’t tell them that when Grandpa Joe dies that he’ll be just “resting.” Telling a young child that may confuse them as they think that Grandpa will be back after his death and you don’t raise their hopes. Depending on what your religious beliefs are, you can incorporate your talk with what you believe happens when a loved one dies.
#3: Answer Questions
Death may be a foreign idea to your children, something that is far out of their comfort zone and understanding so they probably will have some questions for you about death. Don’t just toss off their questions. You had a talk with them and now they want to know more. This will help with their understanding of death.
#4: Accept that Your Child May Not Really Understand
Though you talk to your child about death, accept that they may simply not grasp the meaning of death and that’s OK. No one is truly prepared for when a loved one dies. Your child will grieve in there own way when the death happens, just be there to help them go through the process and tell them you love them often.
#5: Memory Books
My family is big on memory books and my kids adore looking through them. If your kids are the same way, make a memory book of the family member before their death. Have your kids help with the process, include favorite photos of the family member and then when it is done, let your child look through it with that family member. That will give them a happy memory to hold onto when that person is gone.