How to Talk to Kids About Death | Maurina-Schilling Funeral Homes

How to Talk to Kids About Death

September 26, 2019

If you feel hesitant about talking to your children, nieces, nephews and other young relatives about death, you are not alone. This is often a harrowing part of funeral planning in Clark County, WI, and it is difficult to navigate your own grief along with that of any children involved. The good news is that the more honestly you approach discussing death with kids, the easier it will be for everyone. Here are five tips for talking to kids about death:

  • Start early: Do not make death a taboo topic in your home. That will only make things difficult when a loved one passes away. You do not have to go into heavy topics—fruit that was once ripe, but has now rotted, or dead insects are easier ways to approach the topic. Explain that the plant or animal is no longer living, and what that means. If a neighbor’s pet dies, or even one of your own, encourage open communication so it seems normal and allows for full expression of feelings.
  • Be direct: Euphemisms do not help. “She’s in a better place,” makes no sense to a child who believes the best place for Grandma is here visiting her. Younger children tend to understand, but may not ask many questions. Simply stating, “Grandma died, and when people die, their body no longer works and they no longer eat or play. You will not be able to see them anymore,” often suffices. If emotions follow, let your child process them and be there for them.
  • Allow emotions: You need to be prepared for a variety of emotions. Kids may be angry, sad or confused. Let them have their feelings and explain that they are all normal. Much of the hesitancy about death surrounds the notion of whether someone is grieving in the “right” way. Explain to your children that there is no such thing, and that grief is unique to every individual.
  • Encourage participation: If a kid is interested in choosing photos for the memorial service or even an outfit for the deceased, allow their participation. Funeral planning and rituals are often comforting, and encouraging them to say goodbye in their own way will make the grieving process easier. The opposite is also true. If your child prefers to keep distant or would rather not attend an open-casket funeral, respect that point of view as well.
  • Prepare them: Explain the funeral process and details, like what the casket and clothes look like. If there was a cremation, explain the ashes and mention whether they are in an urn or already buried in a coffin. Do not be afraid to say “I do not know” if a child asks something specific about cremation or the manner of death. This is also a good time to discuss the future without your loved one and how to navigate birthdays, holidays and other special events.

Maurina-Schilling Funeral Homes is here for you through every step of funeral planning in Clark County, WI. We offer many services to support you through this tough time. Contact us today to learn more.

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