The death of a family member or close friend can be devastating, no matter your age or prior experience with loss. At Spring Grove, our caring staff members help families throughout Hamilton County navigate the grief journey after losing a loved one. Some families ask our team for advice regarding how to talk about death with children. End-of-life topics can be difficult to discuss with people of all ages, but it’s especially tricky when young people are involved. If you have children in your life, there are some key ways to approach the subject of death to help everyone feel more comfortable connecting over the loss of a loved one.

Consider the age of the child.

Children mature at different ages, but most start to be ready to discuss heavy topics like death around age seven. When speaking with children younger than this, keep your explanations brief and to the point. With older children, you can feel free to go into more detail about a loved one’s death. If the child appears ready, you may even invite them to attend the funeral or visitation. A funeral is a healing event that can serve as a peaceful setting for children to better understand death. Use your discretion when speaking with young people about death and let their behavior and interest guide you as you continue the conversation or save it for a later date in the future.

Don’t be afraid to show your emotions.

Many adults want to protect children from displays of intense emotions like grief and sadness. Though it may be a natural inclination to hide difficult feelings from children, letting them see you express how you feel about losing a loved one can help them better understand death. Normalizing emotional expression sends a message to children that it’s acceptable to share how you’re feeling with those you love.

Get ready to answer tough questions.

Even under everyday life circumstances, children ask a lot of questions. Kids may be especially curious when they don’t understand why something like death has happened. Be as direct as possible in your responses and encourage the child to process their feelings of grief through art or physical activity. Many adults sugarcoat tough topics to protect children from a truth they don’t feel young people are ready to hear. Children of all ages may later appreciate your being upfront about the finality of death.

If you need advice about speaking with young children about death, contact our staff members today. We are always ready to offer guidance and support to families in our area.