What the HELL!?! Series
Lots of parents have approached me regarding the topic of death. It seems that the death of Chadwick Bosemen (actor in Black Panther who played the main super hero) has brought questions from their children. The discussion of death is difficult for many parents. Partly because it is an uncomfortable subject for many. The topic of death should be a natural part of everyday discussions and hopefully before a death occurs that impacts young children. Here are a few tips that might help make it easier:
· Young children are concerned that they are going to die or someone close to them is going to die. This frequently occurs when they hear it on the news or hear people talking about it. They are egocentric in thought, if someone like Chadwick dies that means I am going to die or my parents might die now. Reassuring children by saying, “Your heart is beating (let them feel their heart or your heart beating) that means you are not going to die now. Avoid statements like, “Everyone dies sometime” keep the conversation about death in the present.
· It is okay for children to see sadness. Some people try to keep the display of sadness away from children. It is important that children see sadness as an okay feeling.
· Have discussions around the topic of, Some people die when they are sick.” “Not everyone dies when they are sick. I will help you when you are sick.”
· Avoid abstract thinking with children about death. Keep your discussion simple and real. Definition of death is they can’t Eat, Sleep, Play or Poop. All aspects that children are interested in.
· Avoid saying, “He is at rest” or “She is sleeping” or “He has passed on”. Those statements are confusing and add to children’s concerns.
· Talk to children about how they will remember the person who dies. Memories are a good thing.
Most of all make discussions of death a natural part of life. Keep it present, real, and allow different expressions of mourning.