Help Your Child to Cope With Death

As parents, we try to protect our children from pain and decide sometimes that it is better not to tell them about a death that has occurred in our family. Research has proven that it is better for children to know the truth at an early stage, and the closer the relationship between the child and the dead person is, the more important this is.

Should my child attend the funeral?

It is very important for a child to say goodbye to the person he’s losing, and even see the dead relative. You should prepare your child for this, but if he’s frightened about attending the funeral, he shouldn’t be forced to go. However, you must find a way to let your child say goodbye. For example, let him light a candle, say a prayer, or visit the grave later on.

How can I help my child to accept his loss?

Listen to your child’s fears; reassure him and most of all relief him from the feeling of guilt that he might experience. Your child might develop a fear from being abandoned by his loved ones, this is why you need to give your child extra care, attention and affection at this stage to make him feel safe again. Try to find an answer to all your child’s questions.

When do children need professional help?

After the death of a close family member, children will display feelings of sadness, anger and anxiety. They might refuse to believe that they lost their relative. All these are normal for the first few weeks following a death, but sometimes children show signs that prove they’re not coping with death. In the following cases, your child might need professional help:

-          If the depression continues for a long period and your child loses all interest in daily activities.

-          If your child suffers from insomnia, loses his appetite or is scared to stay alone.

-          If your child keeps acting like a baby for a long time (talks like a baby, etc.)

-          If he denies that the family member has died.

-          If he imitates the dead person all the time.

-          If he keeps saying that he wants to join the person who has died.

-          If his performance at school sharply drops or if he refuses to go to school.