This day and age, the words death and dying are often overused term that refer to a phone battery dying. Someone asks why did they not answer a call, you may get the response “my phone was dead.”
Maybe your kids are playing video games and they make comments such as I only have one life left and oh man!! I died. When thinking of death and dying on these terms it is referring to fantasy or something electronic that only takes a button or a short time attached to a cord to “bring it back to life”.
When it comes to real life, death and dying is not such a casual thing to talk about. In fact, it can be downright terrifying to know how to talk to children about it death. To a young child, the concept of death may be hard to comprehend and even harder for parents to figure out how to explain it. There is always the question of how much do you tell them, how honest should you be in explaining death and should we even expose young children to it at all.
One way of getting down to the level of the children is teaching them in a way that is natural to them. Whether the child has a loved one who has died, someone who is terminally ill or solely for education, being able to help children understand and prepare for loss is important. To do so, one must teach at the emotional level of each child. A great way to do that is to read pictures books. We have compiled a short list of books that may help young ones to better grasp the concept of death and grief. Read them through on your own and think about ways you can talk with your child about the grief they may be experiencing.
Children’s Books on Grief and Loss
1.What Happens When A Loved One Dies? Our First Talk about Death
Written by: Dr. Jillian Roberts
This book explains death and grief in really practical straightforward way. It is educational but speaks in language children can understand.
2. Tear Soup: A Recipe For Healing After Loss
Written by:Pat Schwiebert and Chuck DeKlyen
This book is a great book for older children and teenagers. It is a parable of sorts that explains the process of grief through making “tear soup”. It also has great section at the end that gives guidance in how to handle grief if it is yourself who is grieving as well as ways to help someone else who is grieving
3. Something Very Sad Happened: A Toddlers Guide to Understanding Death
Written by: Bonnie Zucker
This book is written for 2 and 3 year olds. It is perfect for the little ones that may not entirely understand death and that it is final. This is a great book to help them understand on a very basic level. It also has resources at the back of the book to help not only the toddlers but the adult parent who is also grieving.
These are just 3 books that I enjoyed and felt were helpful in working through grief with children. Your local library is always a great resource for more books and audio options.