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Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Helping Kids Deal With Death

My kids have been fortunate enough not to have had to deal with a serious death, yet. The most we have had was a dead fish, that we flushed down the toilet, and led Caitlin to ask if God was in the toilet. She thought because she learned at church that when you die you go to heaven, that God must be in the toilet if that is where we sent the fish. While we can laugh at this because it sounds cute, death is serious, and kids can have a very hard time dealing with it. Yesterday, DJ's penpal friend had a very sad death occur, that she witnessed. Her neighbors puppy was ran over right in front of her. DJ was not sure what he should tell her to make her feel better, so he sent her some virtual flowers, hopefully they helped. Even I sometimes, being a nurse and have dealt with all kinds of death, and dying still sometimes am not sure exactly what to say. Hugs, and support seem to work the best, with little or no words. A few tears never hurt either.

Professionals agree that children need to learn about death, as much as life. It is a circle of life, and unfortunately nothing lives forever. If you are religious you may have already discussed this, or not depending on your childs age. If not you need to tell them in ways they can understand, without big complicated words. Be honest, and don't try to make it sound like no big deal. Most importantly, I think, is to let them communicate how death makes them feel, whether you agree with their emotions or not. Some people are angry, hostile, or withdrawn when dealing with death. While others seem to be distant, or even cold from it. Everyone reacts in their own way, and there is no real right or wrong way to feel. One of my absolute favorite sights for anything that has to do with kids, health, emotions, drugs, choices, whatever is If you have never checked out their site it is very helpful, and kids love it. It is not just for homeschoolers, and it is free.


betchai said...

i too sometimes struggle with what to say when someone i know has death to deal with. i would just usually say my condolences, and i do not add too many words afraid whatever i will add may further complicate the feelings of the grieving person.

Ebie said...

Me, too, I have the same difficulty comforting someone in times like this. I also think that adults should be there to guide the kids when there is death in the family.

Mel, I will be posting my Fun Friday at my new blog.


Anne said...

That was so thoughtful of him! I had no idea. I hope he wasn't upset by her email. She reached out to him shortly after it happened.

Melissa said...

Ms Anne her email did not upset him but he wasn't really sure what to say to make her feel better. He didn't want to say something that made her feel worse. That is why I had him send the flowers rather than answer the email. I am glad they have each other to write to about every day kid things, it is sweet.

Betchai, and Ebie, I am not sure there even is a right or wrong thing to do or say, just be sensitive and thoughtful as best as we can.

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