Helping Children to Process a Death

Death is not an easy thing for people of any age to deal with, especially younger children, who may simply not understand what’s going on. It can be difficult to grieve when you’ve also got kids to look after, so it’s important to have a plan for how you’ll tell the kids and help them process things. Sudden deaths can be even harder to deal with, especially if a third party was to blame, but a wrongful death attorney near you should be able to help you to recover from this. Whether your mental health has suffered or you're struggling financially as a result of the death, an attorney trained in wrongful death cases will know how to bring you some justice. Here are some tips for parents and guardians who’ve lost a loved one.

Explain death in an age appropriate way

As a parent, you’re the best judge of what your child will understand and what they can process. It’s best to explain the death in a simple, straightforward way, and avoid using euphemisms that can confuse a child. Let them ask questions and answer them in an honest way, while being reassuring.

Consider whether to take them to the funeral

Funerals are emotional events. It’s not just the child who’ll be upset, but they will also be surrounded by family members who are in mourning. Most funerals are family friendly, for example, those held in the Blacktown Family Funeral Home, but you’ll need to decide whether your child can benefit from attending, and whether they’re able to sit through the service. If you decide to take a smaller child, it’s best to sit at the back, so you can quickly take them outside if they become disruptive.

Spend some quality time with them

In the weeks after the death, you should aim to spend some quality time with the kids, one-on-one if you can, so they open up to you. It’s difficult to give your kids equal time, especially if you have a big family, but even if it’s just an hour it can help them. You can then talk through their feelings, discuss how they’re coping with the death, or simply do some fun stuff to distract them for a while.

Let the school know

It’s important that the school knows about any changes at home, including bereavements. This is because:

  • Your child may act out or be withdrawn at school

  • Teachers are generally very good at being understanding, and your child may even open up to them

  • Some schools have resources such as counsellors who can help your child

  • The school may be able to refer you for further help

Your child may need some time off school if a close family member has died, so you should discuss with the school how much time they should be off and plans for their return.

Look out for support resources

When you’re going through this kind of thing as a family, you may feel all alone, but the truth is, there’s lots of support out there. Check out local resources for trauma and grief, which will vary from government support to support groups. Kids often need additional help from outside their family, and this is an excellent way to ensure they have someone to talk to. 

When someone dies, it’s hard for adults to understand, let alone children. Follow the advice above and ensure you get help for your child to process their feelings. 

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