Sunday 6 January 2013

Talking to kids about death.

Credit - Me! 
I was asked how I would approach talking about the death of a loved one, family member, friend or school friend to my children?

Depending on the situation I would try to do it in a way I would understand. Which made me think about how my mum told me she was dying of cancer.

I would happily explain it the way it was explained to me when younger. My mother sat me down, and explained that she was really ill and there was no way to win the fight against it. She explained the cancer in a child friendly way and how  everything would be ok, even if she was not there by our side in body she would be there in spirit. She also explained it would be sad but it would get easier.

If a friend of the kids passed away tonight, I would sit them down and explain to them the situation, if ill. Explain how they could not fight it any more, in a similar way mum explained to me. But if an accident or something they won't understand I would have to be creative, not in a way to lie to them, but to avert the fact their was an accident, in case it was gory or worse. But the truth would come out with minor censorship to protect them if it needed it

When it comes to older children (13) Tell them the truth. It's a lot easier. Ask them if they want to attend the funeral as it could help them understand.

I'm not an expert in any way shape or form but offering my advice for those who want it.

If you have any ways you would do it please drop a comment below, I'm not going to say my methods are perfect, but they worked on me. Hence i share what I know.



  1. Thank you for this, it's been really helpful to me when I had to talk about the sudden death of a friend's mummy to my year old today. I really didn't know how to approach it but thanks to your post and advice from others I went for honest and simple and I think it's all ok, I did get the 'are you going to die, mummy?' question and while holding back tears I told him no. I imagine i'll get quite a few more questions over the next few days.

  2. Completely agree that you can't always tell them the full truth but not veering too far from the truth is always a good way to go. I wouldn't want to be too graphic and scare my boys and have explained that my Grandad, who Spud knew, is shining with the stars and looking after us. We don't go in for the whole Heaven thing but The Lion King seemed to put it in a way he undertood that he wouldn't be returning but that it's nice to think they aren't completely gone either

  3. It's always essential to talk truth with older children .

  4. Hi Paul,
    I agree with you whole-heartedly. Unfortunately we have had this conversation more times than I would ever care to have with our 6 year old child who is suffering from a terminal illness.

    We are big believers in honesty; but at 6 years old we are constantly struggling to find the balance between 1) communicating things about death in terms that she will understand and 2) not burdening her with our grief.

    Kids have an incredible way of thinking and I truly believe that the key to talking to children about death is to make it not sound like something to fear.