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8 Tips on How to Talk to Your Kids About Death

8 Tips on How to Talk to Your Kids About Death

Death is a part of life. When it occurs due to natural causes it can be a bit easier to handle. Yet, when unexpected, the process of explaining death to a child becomes that much more difficult. While it may be easier to tell a child that the special someone is “sleeping,” the child grows up with a sense of betrayal when the person never returns. Certainly it is a most difficult task, but the best policy is to be straightforward and gentle.

1. Base Your Discussion On The Child And The Situation

Provide only enough information that answers the child’s questions about the death. Assure the child that the person is no longer in any pain, but sadly not returning. Assure the child that they are well-loved and will be taken care of. Discuss happier memories of the person and reassure the child that even though the person is gone they will never be forgotten.

2. Allow The Child To Grieve

Grieving is a natural process, and it is unnatural and cruel not to make allowances for grief. Provide appropriate outlets for grief, such as allowing them to go to the funeral, sharing memories of the deceased with others, and talking about the loved one. Remember there are no strict time lines for grieving. Talk with the child as he or she needs to be listened to.

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3. Be Honest But Avoid Potentially Traumatizing Information

Answer a child’s questions honestly. Exclude every last detail of the death; these are details the child simply has no need of knowing. For example, if it was a sudden accident, there is simply no need to traumatize the child further with details about the accident. Always reassure the child that they are safe and protected and that while accidents do happen, the child does not need to worry.

4. Watch Out For Unusual Behavior After The Discussion

The child may exhibit unusual behavior after a death occurs. The child may think they can reunite with the loved one after a death and may consider or attempt suicide; seek professional help immediately in that case. The child may withdraw socially and no longer wish to play as he or she once did. Encourage play by engaging the child in activities he or she enjoys.

5. Be A Good Listener

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    Ask the child open-ended questions to encourage discussion and then simply listen. Allowing the child to air his or her grief is a good way on the path to grief recovery. The child may get “stuck” in a particular discussion, in which case it is good simply to continue listening until the child is fully prepared to move forward.

    6. Avoid Lying About The Death

    While it may seem easier to simply tell the child that the person has simply “gone away” as if on a vacation, the result is that the child will learn that you cannot be trusted in being truthful. Yes, in a sense, the person has “gone away,” but be sure to emphasize that the person cannot come back or that there are no possibilities of visitation.

    7. Create A Ritual Of The Death

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      While it may see counterintuitive, a death ritual helps a child come to terms with the death. In the West, this normally includes families reuniting, a wake, and then the funeral. Prepare the child by letting them now that people are coming and some may be new faces. Tell them what happens in a wake and what to expect during the funeral.

      8. Prepare To Answer Questions

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        Again, the key here is to be honest. Answer to the best of your knowledge; it is absolutely fine to tell the child that there is something you don’t know. Be aware of age appropriate answers and avoid providing too much detail.

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        Featured photo credit: Flowers rest on headstone in cemetery via shutterstock.com

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        Last Updated on December 2, 2018

        How to Flow Your Way to a More Productive Life

        How to Flow Your Way to a More Productive Life

        Ebb and flow. Contraction and expansion. Highs and lows. It’s all about the cycles of life.

        The entire course of our life follows this up and down pattern of more and then less. Our days flow this way, each following a pattern of more energy, then less energy, more creativity and periods of greater focus bookended by moments of low energy when we cringe at the thought of one more meeting, one more call, one more sentence.

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        The key is in understanding how to use the cycles of ebb and flow to our advantage. The ability to harness these fluctuations, understand how they affect our productivity and mood and then apply that knowledge as a tool to improve our lives is a valuable strategy that few individuals or corporations have mastered.

        Here are a few simple steps to start using this strategy today:

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        Review Your Past Flow

        Take just a few minutes to look back at how your days and weeks have been unfolding. What time of the day are you the most focused? Do you prefer to be more social at certain times of the day? Do you have difficulty concentrating after lunch or are you energized? Are there days when you can’t seem to sit still at your desk and others when you could work on the same project for hours?

        Do you see a pattern starting to emerge? Eventually you will discover a sort of map or schedule that charts your individual productivity levels during a given day or week.  That’s the first step. You’ll use this information to plan your days going forward.

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        Schedule According to Your Flow Pattern

        Look at the types of things you do each day…each week. What can you move around so that it’s a better fit for you? Can you suggest to your team that you schedule meetings for late morning if you can’t stand to be social first thing? Can you schedule detailed project work or highly creative tasks, like writing or designing when you are best able to focus? How about making sales calls or client meetings on days when you are the most social and leaving billing or reports until another time when you are able to close your door and do repetitive tasks.

        Keep in mind that everyone is different and some things are out of our control. Do what you can. You might be surprised at just how flexible clients and managers can be when they understand that improving your productivity will result in better outcomes for them.

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        Account for Big Picture Fluctuations

        Look at the bigger picture. Consider what happens during different months or times during the year. Think about what is going on in the other parts of your life. When is the best time for you to take on a new project, role or responsibility? Take into account other commitments that zap your energy. Do you have a sick parent, a spouse who travels all the time or young children who demand all of your available time and energy?

        We all know people who ignore all of this advice and yet seem to prosper and achieve wonderful success anyway, but they are usually the exception, not the rule. For most of us, this habitual tendency to force our bodies and our brains into patterns of working that undermine our productivity result in achieving less than desired results and adding more stress to our already overburdened lives.

        Why not follow the ebb and flow of your life instead of fighting against it?

          Featured photo credit: Nathan Dumlao via unsplash.com

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