It’s hard to explain to your kids when a relative or pet dies. It’s harder to find the words if you’re grieving yourself. But here are some tips to help you through a tough time:
Listen, Ask Questions and Be Honest
You know your kids the best. They may ask a lot of questions and it’s okay that you don’t have all the answers. Try to use clear and simple terms. Avoid using words like “went away” or “went to sleep” or even that your family “lost” the person. Young kids think very literally; it may make them afraid to go to sleep or scared when someone goes away.
Be patient and open. Allow your child to work through his or her grief as much as possible. Reassure your child that he or she did nothing wrong or anything to cause the death. Keeping open lines of communication may help prevent grief from being kept inside.
Be sure to make other important adults in your child’s life aware of the death. Teachers, coaches and religious figures can offer additional support.
It may help your child if you plan something special to remember the person or pet who died. You can try to:
Create art projects
- Write a poem or story
- Look at pictures
- Plant a tree
- Run a race in their honor
- Volunteer in memory of the person
- Visit the grave or a special place
This may be a painful time for your family. Remember that there’s no right or wrong way to grieve. There is no amount of time that is right or wrong for the grieving process, but hopefully the more time passes, the less sad you will feel. Remembering the person and the good memories you have will help you and your family feel better.
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