Losing a member of the family is very painful and upsetting to everyone. Death and dying are the incidents that almost everyone will come across at some or the other time in the life.
Coping with grief and loss associated with the death of a loved family member is a stressful event for all, especially children of the family.
Parents, on the other hand, find the incident to be a great loss for missing the loved one as well as for what to say or do to help their children cope with the incident.
How do children react to the death of a family member?
How do children react to and cope with death incident depends on several factors. Age of the child is the main factor to know how the child grieves for the death of a family member.
Children below six are usually unaware of the concept of death. Children of this age range consider death to be a temporary or reversible event where the person will eventually come back after some time.
On the other hand, children above six years with their little knowledge of death react to the incident according to the reaction of others near them, as they are not in a position to understand what has happened and what exactly is happening.
Personality of the child, past experiences with death, and the reaction of other family members and friends are the other factors that relate to how a child reacts to the death.
Sadness, upset, angry, depression, worry, misbehavior, refusing to accept the fact, and some physical changes are the common reactions in the children to the death of a family member.
Parenting tips to help children cope with death of a family member
- To talk with your child, gain control over all your emotions by closing your eyes and taking a deep breath. Also, try to stay calm as possible as you can.
- While explaining about the death, make use of the words “dead,” death” and “dying.” This helps your child understand the concept easily and remember it forever.
- As children often follow their parents, gain strength and be active all the time. Remember that losing control over your emotions can make your child become more worried and it becomes even more difficult for you to handle the situation.
- Be patient, listen to your child attentively, and understand his /her feelings. If the feeling of your child are similar to yours, share those feelings mutually. Remember that, while sharing the feeling, participate in sharing and never try to take the lead.
- Allow your child to reveal their fears and thoughts. Talk to your child and remove all the fears. Also, reassure your child that you are always with him/her.
- Be open and allow your child to ask questions. Never try to avoid difficult questions or neglect those questions. Always give answers to as many questions as possible for you. If you find no answer for the question or you don’t want to reply for a question that increases fear in your child, then say “I don’t know but I’ll try to find and reply you very soon”
- It is a good idea to take your child out of the house where he/she forgets all fears, anxieties, worries etc., and becomes normal.