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Why You Should Talk to Your Kids About Death and 8 Tips to Make it Easier

As parents, it’s understandable that we want to shelter our kids from any pain. We want to help preserve their innocence as long as we can and don’t ever want to see them sad or upset.

It’s a part of life and pretty much unavoidable. Death is not a comfortable topic for anyone, and when it comes time to talk to our kids about it, it’s not easy. We have had many conversations in our house about death and grief — a lot more lately than we had in the past. My children know about our miscarriage history and our children who passed too soon, age-appropriate.

Over the past few months, my children have been exposed to their first experiences of grief. The passing of our two family cats have left them with these sometimes hard to navigate feelings of sadness, anger, confusion and guilt. It’s not easy to see your child cry, missing someone you can’t bring back — but allowing their grief process is important.

We talk often about their feelings, and I don’t believe that hiding my own tears and sadness from them is healthy, so they see me cry, too. It’s not easy talking to kids about death and grief, but here are some ways to make it a little easier and some tips to keep in mind when you’re having the conversations.

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  • How to Talk to Your Kids About Death 1 of 9
    How to Talk to Your Kids About Death
    It's not easy, it won't ever be, but there are some tips to keep the conversation going.
  • Be Open to Answering Questions 2 of 9
    Be Open to Answering Questions
    Your child may have a lot of questions about death and grief. Be open to answering when they come to you with questions. They may want to know what happened, where they are now, why they feel sad. Answer the best you can.
  • Don’t Be Afraid to Say You Don’t Know 3 of 9
    Don't Be Afraid to Say You Don't Know
    When it comes to death, there are questions that no one can really answer. Don't shy away from telling your child you don't know the answer.
  • Don’t Assume They Understand 4 of 9
    Don't Assume They Understand
    Kids process differently than we do and so you shouldn't assume they understand what's going on. Be sure to bring them into the process and explain things in terms they can better understand.
  • Don’t Be Afraid of the Word ‘Death’ 5 of 9
    Don't Be Afraid of the Word 'Death'
    It's not a fun word, but it's not a bad one either. Don't be afraid to say "death" or "dead" to your child. It's not going to shelter them to not hear it.
  • Try Grief Counseling 6 of 9
    Try Grief Counseling
    There are a lot of services available for children dealing with death and grief. Get them into a counseling group or therapist so they can work through their thoughts.
  • Don’t Rush Their Process 7 of 9
    Don't Rush Their Process
    Rushing the grief process is not healthy, and while it may not be the timetable you hoped, don't rush your child through their feelings.
  • Don’t Hide Your Grief 8 of 9
    Don't Hide Your Grief
    It's okay for your child to see you cry. It models that grief is healthy and that you will be supported if you're experiencing hard or bad feelings.
  • Consider Taking Them to the Funeral 9 of 9
    Consider Taking Them to the Funeral
    This is a personal decision for each family and should be considered each time. It's not going to harm your child, but allowing them to see the rituals may be a benefit to your child.

Photo credits: photostock

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