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For many children, teens and some adults, the thought of death or dying is overwhelming to the point of heightened anxiety, overthinking and even the occurrence of panic attacks.

Here are some tips / ideas to help have that conversation with your loved one about death

Be specific!

No matter what conversation you have, make sure to say it exactly how it is!

  • For example, you would explain the process of what happens to the person after they die, through to the burial and so on.
  • you could have a conversation about death happening to older people usually, but not always! You could discuss that sometimes death comes to people who are very sick or have a terminal illness, such as cancer.
  • avoid using metaphors when explaining death, such as ‘he’s gone to sleep’ – this would cause confusion as they would be expecting the person to wake up at some point (the issue of literal interpretation)

Be prepared for questions that are ‘matter of fact’ and direct or blunt (very frank)

  • they also may show signs of unexpected emotion where the person doesn’t know how to react. An example of this is if a child laughs, it could simply be their way of processing emotion.
  • remember not to take the way that someone reacts, as a sign of rudeness – instead support them to help understand death and what that means.

Create Visuals (Scripts & Cue Cards)

Provide scripts and explanations about death & dying and what that means for everyone involved

  • scripts can be written to help a person understand death and what it means for them. For example, the script might be written to remind them that even though the person has died, that there will still be certain things that will stay the same (predictability and sameness)
  • it is also worth having a visual that helps them to understand that when a person dies, it doesn’t mean that we forget about them – we can still talk about them and the memories of them when they were alive

However you tackle this sensitive subject, be mindful of the person you love and support and the way in which they interpret life events!

Written by Sherri Cincotta


You can watch the video HERE

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