Over the last 3 weeks we all watched as my uncles condition deteriorated rapidly. There was no way he was going to survive another 5 years and so began our task of preparing the girls for yet another loss of someone they were close to.
Mothers Day proved a real turning point and it wasn’t long after that, he was soon unable to get out of bed and last Friday he passed away surrounded by his family. His passing was as peaceful as you could get while struggling with the awful disease that was just raging through his body. In the end it was a relief for him to find some peace at last.
So how do you prepare a child to say that final goodbye to a loved one?
- Be honest with them and tell them what is going on, never hide anything from them, but explain it to them in a way they can understand.
- Make it age appropriate.
- Teach them that death is a part of life. Either way they are going to be confronted with grief, do not hide this from them, instead talk to them and let them know that what they are feeling is normal and OKChildren ask very direct questions, so try to answer them in a clear and confident way. If a child senses that you don’t want to be answering and talking about their concerns, they may cease to come to you for advice . You don’t want that…
- Make sure you use the right terminology when talking to a child about a loved one who has passed. Use the word ‘died’ so that they understand the finality of it all. Even though it sounds harsh. The terminology “passed away” might be confusing for a young child and may even give an indication that the loved one may return.
- If your child is going to attend the funeral service, discuss with them beforehand what they are going to see and hear, so they are well prepared. Let them ask questions and answer them honestly so that they do not feel too confronted on the day.
- One thing my 9 year old has been asking me is “are you giving to die” ? Even though this is a terribly hard question to answer, honesty is still the best policy. I just said “yes, but not for a long time”. This seemed to satisfy her although I could still see doubts swirling around in her over active mind. I’m sure we will be revisiting this question again….. But that’s OK.
- Talk about and remember your loved ones frequently with your kids, remind them of the fun times you all had together. At first this may make them sad to revisit, but over time, memories will provide them with a sense of comfort when thinking about the person and leave them with nothing but happy memories. We talk about Grandpa all the time and now I am finding that this is a great way of keeping him with us.
What tips do you have for preparing a child for this eventuality?