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Death in the family

This is more of a placeholder for me.

How bereavement affects children How do children learn about death?

As adults, we know that death is universal, inevitable and the end of physical life. But children's understanding of death comes gradually.
Under five years:

* children of this age have little abstract sense of time or distance, so final and forever mean nothing
* dead means less alive
* death is a sleep or a journey
* death and life are interchangeable


Helping bereaved children

Children find it very difficult to cope with death and may not understand the full implications of losing someone close to them. Dr Ann Dent gives some important tips on how you can help children overcome the problems they may face.

Breaking the news

It's never easy to break the news of a death to a child. If the child isn't told, he or she may be left confused, possibly imagining things worse than the reality. It's therefore important that:

* you, as a parent, or someone known to and trusted by the child tells him or her of the death soon after it's occurred, using touch to comfort and console.
* you use simple, factual words or phrases such as 'dead' or 'has died' to avoid confusion in the child's mind. Phrases such as 'going to heaven', 'slipped away' or 'God has taken him' can be frightening or misleading.
* you answer a child's questions truthfully and as often as they're asked, and admit to not knowing the answer to a question if necessary.
* you practise open and honest communication at all times. Shedding tears is normal and indicates to the child how much the dead person meant to you.
* you inform your child's school of the death and ask for the support of individual teachers as necessary.
* you accept children as bereaved people and don't push them aside.


Some other links...

Bereavement in Children

Working With Bereaved Children: A Guide

It is assumed that you are reading this page because there is a crisis in your
family and you need quick information about what to say to a child to tell them a
loved one has died. This is written to give you quick, simple guidelines.


Coping with loss
Bereavement in childhood


This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on April 23, 2008 11:24 PM.

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