Helping Children Cope with the Loss of a Loved One – A Guide for Grownups 

Posted on October 28, 2013, in Grief and Trauma

Taken from: Helping Children Cope with the Loss of a Loved One — A Guide for Grownups — By William C. Kroen, PhD, LMHC

Here’s what NOT to say to children when someone close to them has died.

  • “Daddy has gone to sleep and won’t wake up.”
    Children given this explanation will hold on to the concept of death as temporary. They may believe that Daddy will probably wake up sometime. They may become fearful that the surviving parent will go to sleep and not wake up. They may wonder, “What if I fall asleep and don’t wake up?” This explanation may lead to sleep disorders as children resist going to bed or falling asleep.
  • “God wanted Mommy and took her to heaven.”
    Children may think, “What if God wants Daddy? What if God wants me?” Their fears and anxiety might increase.
  • “We lost Daddy.”
    Children may wonder, “What if I get lost and can’t find my way back home?” Imagine how worried they might become if they are temporarily lost in a supermarket or shopping mall. Children given this explanation may develop separation anxiety and cling to the surviving parent, refusing to leave his or her side and needing to know where he or she is at all times
  • “Your brother has gone away.”
    Children may think, “Where has he gone, and why?” They may feel anxious about the future: “What if someone else I love goes away?” This explanation is vague and worrisome to children. It creates more questions than answers.

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