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How to talk to your kids about death

With the passing of Queen Elizabeth II, children will undoubtedly have many questions about death. It will be visible to children who have access to the radio and TV as well as other forms of technology. Schools across the country will be addressing the subject and will be closed on the day of the funeral. Simply put, it is a subject that as parents we cannot ignore.

Death is an incredibly difficult subject to address, not least because of the emotions attached to it. Knowing how to navigate conversations with children and how to best answer their (many) questions is particularly tricky and not necessarily obvious. Whilst every family should always feel that they know their children best, there are some dos and don’ts to be aware of and things to encourage and avoid.

As a good starting point, it is universally agreed that using honest, open and unambiguous language is best practice. Listening to their questions, no matter how far-fetched they may seem, is also important so that you can work out what they might already know, believe or perhaps even be worried about. For example, if your child asks a question involving the phrase ‘big sleep’ to describe death, you would be right to correct this to something concrete like ‘death or died’. All of this is in a bid to avoid confusion, now and in the future.

Googling how to talk to kids about death can be overwhelming, and there is lots of advice and resources out there to help you. We’ve collected a list of five places to visit to support your family during this difficult time, as a starting point. We hope you find them helpful.

How to talk to children about the death of the Queen

Winston’s Wish is a charity that supports bereaved children, young people and their families and this short article is a very helpful guide to deal which explains the language to use, how to reassure your child, how they might react and where to get further support.

How to look after yourself when a public figure dies

Whilst there is a lot of focus on supporting children, it is also important that you as a grown up are supported too. The death of the Queen may bring up emotions and feelings that are hard to manage and no one should suffer in silence. You may want to explore the tips and advice in this article, which also includes where to find support.

Free booklet on supporting children when someone dies

This booklet, produced by Marie Curie, provides information on how to support children and young people when someone close to them dies. It’s split into sections so you can easily find the information that you need and is a useful resource to have both now and into the future. You can download it by clicking this link.

Children’s understanding of death at different ages

One of the challenges of talking to children about death is knowing how best to pitch the conversation. Older children will have very different questions and concerns compared to their younger counterparts. This helpful article put together by Child Bereavement UK addresses this and there is a short video you can watch too.

The Do's and Don'ts of Talking With a Child About Death

If you want a simple list of do’s and don’ts about how to talk about death with your child, this is an excellent list which is backed and reviewed by psychologists. Straightforward tips including how to let your child grieve and also how to prepare them for a funeral could be a big help.

We hope you find this useful, and if you have any other useful information to share, we’d love to hear about it in our Facebook group community, FAMILY LOWDOWN TIPS & IDEAS


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