The spirit was never born
We should not believe that children do not understand death. They are aware of both their own and other people's mortality. Consequently, we should never lie to children about death.
Their necessities are similar to those described in our chapter 'Human Needs'. The only differences are caused by the fact that they are emotionally less mature than adults.
Dealing with the death of a loved one:
- Don't lie. Answer children's questions honestly. If you do not know the answers to their questions, don't be afraid to admit it.
- Don't say anything that you may have to take back later.
- Take into account age and level of maturity when deciding how to talk to children about death. You do not have to say everything at once.
- Don't wait until someone dies to talk to children about death.
- Parents should be the ones who tell their children about a death in the family. This task should never be left to another member of the family.
- Don't compare death with a dream or journey as it can be counterproductive.
- Never say things like 'you are going to kill me' when children misbehave. Try to stop the child from feeling guilt or responsibility for the death of a relative.
- Don't try to hide your grief. Sharing your sadness is good.
- Talk to the child about the dead person. Do not avoid the subject.
- If the child has religious beliefs, try to look at the subject from this angle.
- Don't separate children from the situation. They should be involved in caring for the dying person like the rest of the family.
- Don't let children feel ignored. Let them sleep with you for a time if they want.
- Dedicate more time to your children. Observe their behavior closely. If necessary, go to a professional for help.
- Don't let the child take on the dead person's role.
- Don't try to stop children from passing through all the phases of grief.
- Don't turn your house into a shrine for the dead person. This may frighten children.
- Don't tell off children if they do not laugh or play much after the death of a relative.Let children decide if they want to go to the cemetery or not
Dealing with children with terminal illnesses:
- Always tell the truth. They probably already understand their problem.
- Respect children's expressions of sadness, anger or fear. The child needs your support. The child should feel accompanied, comforted and helped at all times.
- Answer questions simply and directly. Children should feel free to talk, ask or even argue about something that affects them directly. Many dying children are able to talk calmly about what they would like to happen to their belongings after they die, or even what kind of music they would like played at their funeral.
- Give children the chance to talk about their religious beliefs if they wish to do so.
- Don't pamper the child or forget responsibilities to the rest of the family.