There will be a point or another you and your children will be faced with death, and that can never be avoided.
It is very important that you teach your children that death is merely an aspect of life, and help them become comfortable with the topic because sadly many adults are not.
The best thing you can do to prepare your children for the prospect of a death is to talk about it with them ahead of time, so they won’t fear it later on.
The approach you use to the subject may vary a little depending on your spiritual beliefs. Some cultures actually embrace the subject of death and see it as an opportunity for re-birth and new life which is the way it should be.
It’s important that you consider your spiritual and emotional beliefs about death and come to fully embrace them before approaching the topic with your kids.
Just know that this will help you facilitate a more impacting and clear cut conversation when the time arises to talk about death and dying.
Here are some suggestions for broaching the topic with your children-
Speak to Your Children About the Cycle of Life – You must consider discussing death with them at a time that you can naturally incorporate it into part of your conversation. Consider for example when the leaves change colors in the fall, and then die off only to grow back in the spring. Remember to keep things light and easy initially, offering your children ample opportunities to ask questions because they will have many.
Always Acknowledge Your Own Feelings – For your children to accept death you must first come to terms with it. Kids are very sensitive and likely to pick up on your emotional cues about death and dying, thus if you are uncomfortable with the subject they are likely to be as well. Be sure to take some time to examine your own feelings and become comfortable with the subject before broaching it with your kids.
Always be Open and Honest About Feelings – Plenty of parents have a natural instinct to shield their children from the grief associated with death, but this can actually be damaging and they would not know this. It’s important that you allow your children to understand that death can be sad, and let them know that you are sad if it happens. It is important that children learn to express themselves openly and honesty and learn how to release their emotions when they must.
Never forget when teaching children about death and dying that their initial reactions may be very different from what you would think.
Instead of focusing on the spiritual or emotional aspects of death they may want to know more about the technicalities, such as how someone is buried and where they end up.
Just know that this is perfectly normal. Address each question honestly and age appropriately when they surface, and your children will come to have a healthy understanding of the death and dying process, and that is what you would want.