When you’re in the middle of dealing with the grief of losing a parent, the last thing you want to do is think about passing that same hurt along to your children. But including your children in the grief process is an important part of helping them get over the loss of a loved one.
If you’re not sure how to tell a child about the death of a grandparent, keep reading. We’ve got the best tips and tricks when it comes to helping your child deal with grief in a constructive, meaningful way.
Use Simple and Age Appropriate Wording
The most important thing to remember when talking to a child about death is that you need to explain it to them on a level that they understand.
Don’t use overcomplicated words that confuse them. That’s a tactic that’s bound to bring about a lot of overwhelm and frustration for them and a lot more questions for you to answer. When you’re in the middle of dealing with your grief, you want to keep things simple.
At the same time, you don’t want to oversimplify it. When you oversimplify for an older child, you run the risk of losing their trust as a source of accurate information.
When discussing death to a child, you want to make sure that you’re using age-appropriate terminology.
Talk About Their Emotions
Grief is a powerful, unique emotion. It’s hard to deal with it as an adult with a full idea of how emotions work. For a child, the feeling can be so powerful and overwhelming that it has lasting effects if they don’t know how to deal with it properly.
Once you’ve broken the hard news to your children, let them know what feelings they might feel. Tell them the names of the emotions, explain how they might cause changes in their bodies.
The main point you should get across here is that there is no wrong way to feel grief. Everyone grieves at their own pace and no matter how your child expresses those feelings, they’re safe and loved with you.
Let Them Know What to Expect
One of the biggest fears that children face when they experience the death of a loved one is not knowing what comes next. That’s why you need to give them a clear cut idea of everything they should expect, from emotional status to physical events they’ll need to attend.
A well-prepared child is less likely to act out in any circumstance, but this is especially true when there’s a high-pressure situation at hand.
Let Them Join in Post-Death Rituals
Many parents think that death is something that children shouldn’t be a part of. They don’t let their children attend funerals or other post-death rituals.
However, these rituals are an important part of the closure process for everyone. Even if you don’t think your child is ready to handle a funeral, give them the option to come along.
Make sure you follow the previous guideline and give them a thorough idea of what to expect at the funeral, especially when it comes to the body of their deceased loved one. Then let them decide if they want to be involved.
Give Them a Role
If your child decides that they want to attend the funeral or other post-death rituals, consider giving them something small to do at the service. Whether that means letting them stand up and read a small passage of a favorite book they read with their grandparent or simply helping to pass out the service program, every child feels better and more prepared when they have something to do.
This is also a great way to help them feel like they are a part of the post-death ritual, which can do wonders for their closure and healing as well.
Help Them Create a Positive Memory of their Grandparent
Death is sad for the living, but it doesn’t have to be sad forever. It’s important to create a long-lasting positive memory of their grandparent as soon as possible. The last thing you want is for your child to get sad every time they think about a beloved family member.
Consider ways to honor and cherish the deceased’s memory.
Donate in their honor, give your time to charitable causes that they believed strongly in, watch their favorite movies, and frequently discuss all the good times. Create a memorial for them in your home like the ones from Green Meadow Memorials.
This will be great for the grieving process for your child and it will also be incredibly healing for you as well.
Always Be There
When we are stuck in the middle of our grief, it can be so easy to fall in on ourselves and push the outside world away. And while it’s okay to take some time to yourself to feel your feelings, you are your child’s lifeline in this situation and they need you to be there for them.
Make sure your child knows that, no matter what, you will be there to listen to their feelings and thoughts. Even if they just need someone to sit with them while they cry, let them know you’ll be their rock.
You can heal together.
Give Them Time
Even if you handle talking to a child about death like a pro, there are still going to be hiccups and bumps along the way. No one grieves perfectly. Your child is a human, just like you, and they’ll need time to get over this life-altering event.
It can be frustrating when a child closes in on themselves, but you can use that space to allow yourself time to heal as well.
How to Tell a Child About the Death of a Grandparent
We hope these tips for how to tell a child about the death of a grandparent will help you in the process of dealing with the death of a loved one.
But death is an inevitable factor of life. At some point, your child will have to come to terms with it. It’s better if they do that with you on their side, guiding them through the process step by step.
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