How Should I explain…

  • Be honest, and keep it simple. Don’t let your children find out the important details about what happened over Facebook or other social networking sites.
  • Ask questions, find out what the child already knows about death.
  • Encourage children to share their thoughts and fears about what is happening.
  • Don’t hide your own feelings.  If you suspect that your child or young person is deliberately hiding their feelings in order to protect you, explain to them that they do not need to do this and encourage them to talk about how they truly feel rather than bottling things up to spare your feelings.

It is important to avoid offering explanations of death such as ‘gone away’ or ‘gone to sleep’ that may cause misunderstandings and confusion.

Lewis wasn’t sleeping, he found it really difficult to settle at bedtime. He would throw huge tantrums and often lash at his parents. One evening he blurted out “what if I never wake up, what if I die in my sleep like Nan did” 

Explain what dead means: “Nan died. Her heart stopped beating and she couldn’t breathe anymore. Nan doesn’t need to eat no more, she cannot see, hear or move, and she cannot feel pain. Being dead is not the same as sleeping. All your body parts work when you are sleeping. When a person dies, their body has stopped working”