How To Talk To Children about Death

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How do we help children grieve the loss of a loved one?

  1. Listen to your child—his words, his actions, his emotions.

    1. Answer his questions honestly.
    2. Hold him while he cries and cry with him.
    3. His actions will give you clues to his emotional state.
    4. Discuss his feelings. Listen, listen, listen.
    5. Work out your child's feelings by:

      1. keeping a journal
      2. role playing
      3. dramatic play
      4. using various art mediums
      5. reading
      6. exercising
      7. punching a pillow
      8. kicking a pile of dirty clothes
    6. Rocking chair image

      Discuss memories of your loved one.

      1. Your child will always have his memories.
      2. He can think of them whenever he wants.
      3. He might want to hold his own memorial, like planting a tree.
    7. Help him see the finality of death but the companionship of memories.
  2. Stages of grief a child may or may not go through:

    1. Denial: This didn't really happen.
    2. Anger: How could God do this to me?
    3. Bargaining: If only I had been better, this wouldn't have happened.
    4. Depression: I'm going to feed sad the rest of my life.
    5. Acceptance: I have my precious memories so I can be with my loved one forever.
  3. Rocking chair image

    Reassure your child that you will still care for him, and you probably won't die until he is grown.

    1. Help him know there are many living people that still love him.
  4. Hold family activities that allow the child to grieve, like a family meeting where everyone shares memories of the loved one.
  5. Rocking chair image

    Discuss your belief in an afterlife or Heaven.

    1. Let your child know where you think your loved one is.
    2. Talk about the possibilities of your loved one's surroundings.
    3. Can your child let your loved one know his feelings by talking to your loved one?
    4. Discuss things that will bring both of you peace.

Remember, Light is stronger than dark.

Light chases away dark image

Love is stronger than hate.

Love chases away hate image

To do list:

  1. Find a feelings release that will work for your child.
  2. Be creative with art mediums, crafts, writing.
  3. Help your child find peace:

    1. Cherish his memories.
    2. Plan a memorial.
    3. Share feelings with the family.
    4. Talk about the afterlife so he can picture your loved one share feelings.

How To Talk To Children about Divorce

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How do we keep from traumatizing children in a divorce situation?

  1. Talk with children. Let them ask the questions that worry them.

    1. Answer honestly.
    2. Reassure them that they are not responsible for the divorce.
    3. Help them accept that they won't be able to get their parents back together again.
    4. Do NOT involve the child in adult's anger issues, judgments or opinions of the ex-spouse.
    5. In most situations children will be able to spend time with both parents. Talk with them about visitation.
    6. Don't ask a child to take sides in the divorce.

      1. They love both parents.
      2. They came from both parents.
      3. They have characteristics of both parents.
  2. Allow children to grieve the loss of their family.

    1. Experience the sadness
    2. Talk about the loss
    3. Work out their feelings by:

      1. keeping a journal
      2. role playing
      3. dramatic play
      4. using various art mediums
      5. reading
      6. exercising
      7. punching a pillow or kicking a pile of dirty clothes
  3. Father holding daughter's hand image

    Find the positive things that they will have in their new lives.

    1. They'll probably spend more quality time with each of their parents.
    2. Both their homes will be more peaceful—with less fighting.
    3. They'll make new friends at each home.
    4. They may be part of new families with all the more people to love them.

Remember, Light is stronger than dark.

Light chases away dark image

Love is stronger than hate.

Love chases away hate image

To do list:

  1. Find a feelings release that will work for your child.
  2. Be creative with art mediums, crafts, writing.
  3. Help your child find positive reframes:

    1. A peaceful place to live—no more fighting.
    2. More time with each of your parents.
    3. Two sets of friends.
    4. Two families to love you instead of just one.

How To Talk To Children about Tragedy

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How do we help children through the trauma of tragedy?

  1. Make sure their basic needs are being met as well as the situation allows.

    1. Find food.
    2. Find shelter.
    3. Keep them warm.
    4. Hold and hug them.
  2. Reassure them that you will keep them as safe as you can.
  3. Listen to their feelings.

    1. Validate them.
    2. Allow them to experience their sadness.
    3. Talk about their material loss.

      1. their favorite stuffed animal
      2. other treasured items that are gone
    4. Demolished building image

      Feel the sadness and loss of friends and loved ones.

    5. Work out their feelings by:

      1. role playing
      2. dramatic play
      3. using art in the mediums available
      4. talking
      5. exercising
      6. cleaning up after the tragedy
      7. punching a pillow
      8. kicking a pile of rubble
    6. Downed tree image

      Find the positive things that they will have in their new lives.

      1. They're spending more time with friends and loved ones cleaning up.
      2. They've made new friends in the shelter (or wherever they are).
      3. Each day look for something to be grateful for.
      4. They can start again and rebuild their lives.
      5. They are stronger because they can do hard things now.

Remember, Light is stronger than dark.

Light chases away dark image

Love is stronger than hate.

Love chases away hate image

To do list:

  1. Find a feelings release that will work for your child.
  2. Talk about strength in starting over.
  3. Help your child find positive reframes:

    1. Look for the good around them.
    2. More time with family.
    3. Enjoy their new friends.
    4. Find something to be grateful for each day.
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