When a child loses a loved one, it can be difficult to help the child understand what happened. Some children don’t have the level of comprehension necessary to make discussing death with them easy. Unfortunately, there isn’t much that you can do to remedy the pain that the child is likely to feel. Consider these tips if you are left explaining the loss of a loved one to a little one.
First, use words the child can understand. You will have to simplify things to an age-appropriate level. Be sure to avoid saying things like the person is “sleeping” because this might give the child false hope that the person will wake up. It can also lead to the child being afraid to go to sleep.
Don’t provide gory details about the accident to a child. Keep the information you provide simple so that the child has a basic understanding of what happened. You might be able to share some details with older children, but you should still be careful.
Some children will ask the same question or say the same thing over and over again while they cope with the loss. Think about your reactions when the child does this because how you react might set the tone for how the child works through his or her own feelings.
One thing that a child might pick up on is the stress of having to deal with the finances left behind. The family members who are left behind might choose to seek compensation through a wrongful death lawsuit to try to recover some of the money they are out of because of the death.
Source: Funeral Plan, “Answering a Child’s Questions about Death,” accessed March 17, 2017