When your loved one dies, it can get very overwhelming and terrifying at the same time, especially if it is your first experience of it! The worst of it is how are you going to break the news to your child or any little ones without traumatising them.
Talking about death is generally a taboo subject for everyone. It is definitely not an open conversation for anyone as some believe it is bad luck as death will visit you, especially within Chinese culture. Some people believe children should be shielded from the concept of death and some not even allow children to attend funerals as it is considered bad luck to see dead people. Jenny from The Brick Castle wrote a post on why children should go to funerals – check out why she thinks that. I also think that it is a mistake to not allow children to attend. It is okay to get them involved and get them talking to you about their worries.
Here are some tips you might find useful:
The process of death is a very scary journey, even for adults. Try to be as calm as you can and give only factual answers to the questions. It is always helpful to listen to the questions before you jump to answers. They may ask inappropriate questions but try to use positive and direct phrases than trying to make death a horrible experience. For example, avoid using negative words like saying grandpa ate too much food and he died of a heart attack. This can make children think that eating food caused grandpa to die and make them afraid of eating. Don’t be afraid of using the real words but always give factual answers to avoid the message being lost in transition. These days, children can understand much more in life than we think.
Everyone grieves differently and so do children. After losing a loved one, they might be crying one minute and laughing the next. Their changeable moods do not mean that they aren’t sad or they have finished grieving. Your children may wish to talk, or may not, so be patient. Try a little talk over the days, weeks, months to see how they are coping. You might find that using books which deal with loss help to build the bridge between you and your child.
It is okay to feel emotional and to cry and it is also okay not to. Don’t make them feel bad just because they don’t feel what you are feeling now. It is normal to feel depressed, guilty, anxious, or angry at the person who has died, or at someone else entirely and it is normal not to. Everyone has their own ways to cope.
Get them involved as little as they want or as much as they want. From picking the music to play during the funeral or picking clothing for your loved one to choosing the colours of the flowers. Attending funerals can be helpful for providing closure for them too, but never force them if they don’t want to. Prepare them as much as possible with what they will see during the funerals.
If you are finding it hard to deal with the issue, please don’t be afraid to get professional help. If you are not coping, it is harder yet to support a child. For more information on talking to children about bereavement, please visit childbereavementuk.org. SunLife has some useful information on what to do when someone dies that may cover any questions you may have on funeral costs.
Disclosure: This is commissioned by SunLife to give my thoughts for the purposes of writing this post, however, all thoughts and opinions remain our own.