The death of a close friend or relative can release feelings of loss and intense sadness. While adults may struggle to deal with these feelings, children can have an even harder time coping.
If you have recently lost a loved one, you may be concerned about how their death may impact the children in the family. Children can often struggle to understand death, so adults must be there to offer the support and guidance the child needs to overcome their loss. Below is a guide to some of the things you can do if you know a child who has lost a loved one.
1. Be Honest and Clear When Breaking the Bad News
Breaking the news of a death to a child can be extremely difficult. Because the news will likely be upsetting, you may be tempted to put off telling a child about the death.
However, you should never delay informing a child that a loved one has died. Any delay increases the risk that the child will discover the news from someone else or by accident, which could increase the level of trauma and distress they feel.
When breaking the news to a child, try not to sugar-coat the message by using vague terms such as saying that the person has passed away or gone to the other side. While using these terms may make you feel better, the terms might confuse a child who may take them literally.
If you do use a vague term, the child might fail to understand that the person has died. Instead, you should be honest and clear with the child, and you should not shy away from the words death or dead. Using these words will ensure the child understands what has happened.
2. Give Them Space, but Be Ready to Listen
Take the time to listen to how your child is feeling to be as supportive as possible. You should never presume that you know how the child is feeling. Instead, you should spend time sitting with the child so that they can explain their thoughts and feelings to you.
If the child does not feel ready to talk, you shouldn’t put any pressure on them to do so. Grieving for the loss of a loved one takes time, and you must respect this fact. By giving the child love and attention, you can help them to understand that you will be there for them when they are ready to talk.
3. Ask If They Want to Be Involved in the Funeral
You shouldn’t force a child to attend a funeral. Doing so could result in severe emotional harm. Equally, you should never prevent a child from attending a funeral service if they wish to do so.
A good starting point is to ask the child about the level of involvement they would like to have. If the child does want to be involved, they will likely come to understand some aspects of cremation or the funeral service. And by allowing them to play a small part, you can help them to deal with their grief.
For example, you could ask the child which types of flowers should be used as part of the funeral wreaths or perhaps to read a short poem or draw a picture for display during the service.
If you’d like to find out more about planning a cremation or funeral service, you should contact us today. Our dedicated staff will be happy to offer you help and support during this challenging and turbulent time, and we can help you as you help your child through the grieving process.