Breaking the News to Your Children- Part 1

In addition to having many questions of your own, you have the added concern that your children may ask questions that you cannot answer, or you are not ready to answer.  This can be an opportunity for instruction on one of life’s greatest lessons: learning to effectively process grief.[1]

Although we often feel that our children are too young or too sensitive to process the illness and death of a loved one, children growing up in today’s society are more aware of the reality of death than we realize.[2]

Be honest with your children or adolescents.  They are very adept at sensing when something is not right in their world.  It is better for you to tell them the facts sooner rather than later so that you do not leave it to their imaginations to fill in the blanks.  The unknown is often more frightening to children (as well as to adults) than reality.  By talking with them and giving realistic, age-appropriate information, you can alleviate unnecessary anxiety.

You need not be overly concerned about hiding your feelings and emotions from the children in your care.  They need to know that being brave does not mean that you can’t cry.  Tears can express many different feelings.  They can be a sign of grief, of pain and discomfort, or of relief and joy.  When you share your feelings, you give your children a safe place to express their feelings as well.

 


[1] Shaw, E. (1994).  What to do when a loved one dies: A practical and compassionate guide to dealing with death on life’s terms.  Irvine, CA: Dickens, p. 248.

[2] Grollman, E. A. (1990).  Talking about death: A dialogue between parent and child.  Boston: Beacon, p. ix.

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