A Child's Perspective
The death of a loved one affects everyone in the family,
including children. During this difficult time, children will
confront many of the same emotional challenges as adults. Terminal
illness and a death in the family may force family members to spend
time away from their children.
While these absences are usually an essential duty of care for
adults, they can often be seen as neglect in the eyes of a young
child. Reassuring children at this stage will help to displace any
sense of guilt or frustration that may be felt.
It is important that the child's sense of loss is recognised in the
period following the death of a loved one. There is a tendency for
adults to try and protect children from the pain but they, too,
must be allowed to come to terms with their new
The funeral provides an important opportunity for children to
adjust to their loss and to say their own goodbyes. An explanation
of the events that will take place should be offered so that
children can be encouraged to share the funeral experience, accept
the death and reconcile their grief with the rest of the family and
Encouraging children to be open with their feelings is central to
reconciling any symptoms of grief. Recognising that these symptoms
may be related to your own will help you to give comfort and allay
Taking time to answer children's questions about death is an
important stage in their grieving process. While many of these
questions may appear simplistic or naïve, they are legitimate
concerns for the child.
In order to help parents care for grieving children, Burstows has
available a guide that has been written specifically to answer some
of the questions that are frequently asked.