Archive for March 28th, 2011

March 28, 2011

Children and death of a loved-one

by Rod Smith

1. Tell the truth, even to young children, as lovingly and directly as possible.

2. Avoid meaningless nonsense like “uncle has gone to America” – use words like “he died” and “dead.” “Gone away” or “passed away” are meaningless terms and only add to confusion.

3. Avoid nonsense like “God needed a helper and so God took your aunty.” Not only is this theological claptrap, it is likely to make a child wonder how an all-powerful God can need a beloved relative in Heaven more than a helpless child needs the same person on Earth.

4. Allow grief and mourning to freely occur for you and the child. Crying and wailing is helpful in the light of loss – stopping it up, blocking it, holding it in, will only allow natural grief to fester and transform into something unhelpful (anger, resentment) in the future.

5. If a child does not appear to be upset, don’t push the child toward your own grief. Allow the child to handle loss in his or her unique way.

6. I am of the opinion that it is helpful for children to attend funerals and to see the body. Of course I am aware that there are many who disagree and, of course, there are exceptions which include violent deaths, suicides, and so forth.