Talking to Our Youth

Talking to Our Youth

Losing a loved one is not easy at any age and this can be especially hard on our youth. Although we know that death is inevitable, it can still be difficult to talk about because it is so painful.

Death can happen suddenly or over a period of time and it is important to be able to realize what happened, talk through the feelings and eventually accept that it occurred.

When speaking to children, it is important to be honest. This will help them understand why you may seem sad and it will help them feel able to speak openly to you about the way they are feeling as well. It is also important to note that children often find it hard to comprehend the permanence of death. Being honest with them about what happens to our bodies and what death means can help them with this confusion. Another thing to think about is using the terms “dead” and “died” over “passed away” or “went to sleep”. Although it seems like we are comforting a child by softening with euphemisms, it often leads to more confusion or even scaring them.

Be prepared for a variety of emotions and share the information in doses that your child can handle. Don’t be afraid to show your emotions or to say “I don’t know”. Prepare them for life after loss by talking about how it will feel to celebrate birthdays and holidays without their loved one. And let them know that they will be ok and there are lots of things in life to look forward to.

When you are wondering how involved your child should be in funerals and rituals, let them decide. If they will be attending services, prepare them for what they might see. Most of all, know that there is no right way to grieve and remember to also take care of yourself.