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Death is an inevitable part of life and grief is a universal human process.  Parents and carers cannot shield children from the pain of death and loss.  However, we can all help children understand this loss and grieve. 

How Do I Tell My Child Someone Has Died?

Informing children of the loss of a parent, sibling, close relative or friend can be very difficult.  While parents and carers often want to protect children from further distress, child need to be told about death and helped to understand the effects of their loss.   Some key tips to assist in this process:

  • Use simple language.
  • Be clear. It’s okay to use words like “dead” or “dying” Other terms, like “gone to sleep” may be confusing.
  • Be prepared to repeat the story several times.
  • Let your child know who she can talk to about the death.

How Might My Child React to a Death?

Children of all ages can have reactions to grief. Common early responses are:

  • Shock
  • Denial
  • Sleep disturbance

After the initial reaction, children could experience:

  • Anxiety
  • Loneliness
  • Guilt
  • Anger

For more information please see our free ebooks for parents and children or contact our Bereavement Service

Contact Barnardos Bereavement Helpline Service

(01) 473 2110 Open Monday to Thursday, 10am-12pm

[email protected]

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