“How do I tell my child about the death?” This is the most common question we receive at The Dougy Center. Someone has died, leaving parents and other adult caregivers to struggle with finding the right words to say to their children. In this episode, we outline tips for talking with children about a death. Adults can start by attending to their own reactions to the death. Often the thoughts and feelings they experience can impede or enhance having an open, honest, supportive conversation with their children. As an adult, what do you need to sort out with feeling shame, blame, confusion, guilt, or other emotions related to how the person died? How can you keep that as your story and not put it onto your children?
Summary of tips for talking with children:
- Tell the truth
- Use concrete, age-appropriate language
- Allow for questions - in the moment and over time
- Be prepared to tell the story over and over, esp to younger kids
- Refer to The Dougy Center resources (below)
- Know that you are providing children with a safe, trusting foundation from which to experience their grief
Tip sheets: http://www.dougy.org/grief-resources/tip-sheets/
Main site: http://dougy.org
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Grief Out Loud is supported in part by the Chester Stephan Endowment Fund in loving memory by the estate of Theodore R. Stephan.