Talking about the death of a loved one with a child

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Simple words, the expression of the adult's emotions and especially the truth will help the child to tame the death of a father, mother, brother or sister, a grandparent, a loving godfather or godmother, or even a pet.

Things not to say

Pay attention to explanations that, in order to protect, generate internal conflicts and fears difficult to manage. "Dad’s gone for a very long trip" will probably be afraid of any distance and any displacement. "Grandma fell asleep" can cause panic at bedtime. "Mom went to heaven" gave more than one child the urge to fly away.

Many children who have been "protected" from the death of a loved one have remained traumatized for life by this death, which has changed their basic belief that life can be beautiful and satisfying. They integrate that every loved one can disappear at any time, leaving behind an immense feeling of incomprehension, helplessness and helplessness. Nobody wants their child to drag such a heavy burden. 

Bringing up the topic 

If, instinctively, you have first communicated to the child a softened version of the death, do not blame yourself. Take the time to talk to him or her and tell them how it happened.

Explain that death is part of life using examples of which they have already been aware of; the death of his hamster or goldfish, for example. Reassure them. Tell them that you will not leave them because you are in good health and that the grief you both feel will not last forever and that the loved one will live forever in your heart. If you cannot find the right words, let your questions guide you. Some children have hundreds and others will prefer to go play to accept what has happened at their own pace. It does not mean they have not understood or are indifferent. They only need a little time.

Every mourning is unique

It is good to know that young children interpret things according to themselves. Thus, it is not uncommon for the child to feel guilty about the death of a loved one. They may feel that they were the cause of his great fatigue or illness. The adult must tell the child that they are not responsible for what happened. It may be good to repeat it to them every time the child turns back on themselves or thinks they are bad. This is a normal reaction in an abnormal situation. It is absolutely necessary to accompany this feeling with kindness.

After the death of a loved one, accompanying the child also means welcoming their emotions in times when we do not expect them. In the middle of a party, during a pleasant activity, or while doing homework, it is possible that the absence is more difficult to wear. Even years later, the grown child can express grief. This does not mean that he did not integrate grief well. It simply expresses that some beings are irreplaceable.

When is it wise to worry? 

If you notice signs such as recurring nightmares, loss of interest in loved ones, inexplicable temper tantrums, significant drop in academic performance, or the habit of isolating yourself from others, it is strongly recommended that you consult a professional. There are also groups and support activities specifically designed to help mourning children.

Being strong is not always the best solution 

Many adults believe that hiding their emotions and being strong for children is one way of ensuring their balance. Making an effort to maintain a safe routine, to be present, to play with them and to reproduce small gestures that the other was doing are undoubtedly important gestures.

To hide one’s sorrow and to pretend that everything is normal is, on the contrary, a source of confusion for the child. To collapse completely in his presence causes him the fear of losing you too, but to show you strong in all circumstances will not be of much help either. Look at pictures together, cry, tell happy moments lived together, go gather on the place of burial, can bring a certain serenity even if the emotions are alive.

Re-learn to live 

Finally, remind yourself and your children that a human being is not his emotions. Emotions come and go and welcoming them without holding them back is a condition for staying in good mental health.

In addition, the missing loved one would no doubt wish to see his children flourish and be happy. Feeling joy is not a betrayal, because it is the fulfillment of the most cherished wish of all parents in the world, whether living or not.

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