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How do you talk to your child about death?

(8 Posts)
Anngeree Fri 02-Oct-09 10:15:24

I've just spent the last week trying to convince Ds that i'm not going to die yet!

A child in Ds's school lost her mam just before the new term started (Her mam had terminal cancer)so I think Ds has overheard other parents or children talking & he's become very anxious, Having nightmares about finding me dead, asking questions about who would look after him if i'm not there. It got to the point where he was screaming before going to school in the morning telling me he had tummy ache, ear ache etc because he was so frightened that something was going to happen while he was at school.

I've spoken to Ds's teacher & she's been great with him offering lots of support, Praise,time out if needed & 1-1 with teaching assistant. I've been trying my best to reassure him at home but I must admit it has been really stressful.

How have others coped in a similar situation?

BulletProofMum Fri 02-Oct-09 10:20:29

How old is he?

My DS is 4 and he gets upset from time to time. I try to be as honest as possible with the exception of presenting heaven as a fact (not something I personnally believe in). I tell him that I may die before him but that it really is so unlikely to happen. TBH though DS is not as distressed as your DS - just occasionally we have a few tears.

I also talk to him about his dead grnadfathers and our 2 recently deceased cats. I took him to his greatgrandmothers funeral. I believe exposing children to death may help prepare them if they are ever bereaved.

not much help!

sarah293 Fri 02-Oct-09 10:31:13

Message withdrawn

Anngeree Fri 02-Oct-09 10:58:56

Ds is 6, It's just a phase he's going through atm normally he's a happy well adjusted little boy who loves school but in the last week things have changed. Hopefully with a little more reassurance we'll get past this.
Last time he was worrying like this he was in nursery and you kind of expect some separation anxiety as most of the time it's a childs first experience being alone without mam.
Riven That was really insensitive of the neurologist, I don't know whether your dd is able but have you tried drawing pictures with her as a way of broaching the subject drawing smilie, sad faces etc having a variety of colours for her to choose from dark colour can mean she's upset lighter colours that she's ok, Do you go to any sort of couselling or support group perhaps they can help.

theoptimist Fri 02-Oct-09 18:54:05

I've had these conversations recently with my now 8 and 6 year olds. I told my son, who paniced a lot, to think of 10 really happy thoughts, and to think of each in a lot of detail - to picture them - make them silly!, etc., and as soon as he started to worry, to put the 10 happy thoughts straight into his mind and start going through them one by one. He did that. The other day he said he doesn't need to do anything anymore as the bad thoughts have gone. It was all I could think of.

In the day time I've talked about death, when they've asked, but I'm matter of fact about it, and I don't make it out to be something bad or to be feared. I even get them to visualise my dad getting up to mischief in his other life, etc. I never avoid the subject if they want to talk about it. I just don't talk about it at bed time.

Onlyjoking Fri 02-Oct-09 19:40:50

i think it is a phase kids go throu but sadly if they experience the death of someone it brings the subject up sooner.
i think you have to be honest to some degree and answer questions as honestly as you can without giving them more to worry about.
My kids are very aware of death having watched there dad die last year from cancer, which led to questions and worries about me dying, i have been as honest as i can with them and it seems to have worked, death is not a taboo subject in our house and the kids are comfy talking about it.
winstons wish do some useful book about death aimed at kids which might help

zippy539 Fri 02-Oct-09 20:02:02

Sorry you are going through this it sounds like a nightmare.

I seem to remember both of mine going through a death obsession around the age of six (regardless of any external events). At the time I dealt with it as honestly as I could - 'yes sometimes Mummies and Daddies do die but it is VERY VERY unusual etc etc). They both seemed to accept this. Then last year (DS 8, DD 6) the mother of a child at their school died and it all came up again. I just re-iterated my party line over again as calmly as possible and after a few disturbed nights/nightmares/tears it all went away again. I'm no expert on this (and my dcs don't have any experience of someone really close dying) but given how upset your ds is (and the excellent support he has had at school) it might be now be the time to adopt a fairly brisque approach. 'Yes, it's very sad when someone dies but it is VERY rare for a Mummy or Daddy to die' then move swiftly along onto a cheerier topic.

If you get repeated questioning about what happens when someone dies and you aren't comfortable with a religious explanation (as I wasn't) then I found it helpful to (breifly) explain that a when someone does die they 'live' on in you (ie the child) with a couple of quotes about how YOU inherited your grannies cake baking skills, sense of humour etc..Then move it on to a breif discussion of what is special about the adults around them and what qualities your ds might share and carry on into the future.

Dunno if it will psychologically damage them in the future but this approach worked well with my (sensitive) pair.

MavisEnderby Fri 02-Oct-09 20:10:07

Be as honest as possible and age appropriate.

Mcmillan do a good leaflet "Talking to children about death"

Children are quite resilient really,imo.My oh was extremely poorly and we brought the subject up as he was so ill.

The other day ds was pondereing on death as we had walked through the local cemetry on the way home.I had done the death talk,you know,"most people live for a long time and don't die until they are very old".The next day we got on the bus and a very frail elderly lady got on."I'm 94 you know,luv" she told the driver.

Embarrasingly,as she alighted from the bus,ds 5,said very loudly "Mummy,that lady said shes 94,that means she will die soon won't she?" (I was so blush I didn't know where to put myself)

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