Recently I have had to grapple with mortality questions. My mother is getting quite old, my Grandmother in-law as well, but the one that has hit me the hardest is the loss of a good friend’s wife. They have two children close in age to Luke and Lily.
What has amazed and helped me is listening to the children’s acceptance and understanding of death. They do not have any fear or remorse about it, it is all matter of fact to them.
I did some research for my friend and found that what is important is NOT to say things like “they passed away” or that they have “left us”. Poetic descriptions like these make no sense to a child and therefore can create stress.
She left us? where did she go? and why can’t I see her anymore?
You have to be clear, concise and truthful about what has happened and what you get in return are thoughtful, interesting questions, like “what happened to her body?”. “I am worried if they burn her body, it will hurt her”.
This is where you help the child, by being clear, present and thoughtful.
Nothing can stop what will eventually be incredible hardship and pain for any child (or adult for that matter) who loses a parent, but I am learning a lot in this process and trying to keep it as positive as I can.