Dealing with the death of a loved one can be a difficult challenge for anyone. But when the death is of a parent, helping their children navigate through this time in their life can be even more difficult. Depending on the age of the children, their understanding of the situation may be very limited, which can make the loss of their parent very confusing and scary. But with the right support and nurturing, you can help these children deal with what they’re feeling and come to terms with this loss in their life. To assist you in doing this, here are three tips for helping a child through the death of a parent.
The Three C’s Of A Child’s Needs
When something traumatic happens in the life of a child, like the death of their parent, KidsHealth.org.nz recommends that you keep in mind the three C’s of a child’s need during this time: continuity, care, and connection. To feel stable, you should try to stick to the same routines that the child is used to. Additionally, you should be ready and able to give the specific type of care the child is needing, be it physical or emotional. By being there for the child in whatever way they need, they’ll be able to feel their connection to you and hopefully work through this rough time they’re going through.
Be Soft Yet Straightforward
For children, the idea of death can sometimes be a foreign concept. Even if the child does understand what it means to die in generally, they might not connect this to the fact that they won’t be able to see or speak to their parent again. So to help ensure that the child doesn’t get any misinformation or false hope for the future, Rachel Ehmke, a contributor to the Child Mind Institute, advises that you be both soft yet straightforward when speaking to the child about what happened. Avoid using euphemisms or trying to gloss over the severity of the situation. While you shouldn’t give more information than the child can handle for their maturity and sensitivity, you should be very truthful and direct.
Allow The Child To Ask Questions And Express Their Emotions
Because of all the confusion that often surrounds death in the mind of a child, it’s normal for them to be curious and ask questions, even some that might seem inappropriate to adults. But to help remove any stigma around dealing with the death of their parent, Cancer.net shares that you should encourage the children to ask any questions they might have and to openly express whatever they’re feeling about their parent’s death. This can be a very healing process for kids.
If you have or know of a child who’s just had a parent die, consider using the tips mentioned above to help learn how to support them during this difficult time.