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Is It OK to Talk to Children About Loss and Grief?

Death is one of the most difficult concepts to talk about, but on the other hand, it is an inevitable part of life. So we often have to confront and talk about this concept. Specialist from Istanbul Okan University Hospital, Department of Psychology. Ps. Tuğçe Dabağer Dilek made statements about talking to children about loss and mourning.

“It is normal for children to question the concept of death”

exp. Ps. Tuğçe Dabağer Dilek said, “We may have hesitations about how to share this concept with children from time to time, some children may ask curious questions about this subject, while others may not want to talk at all. Although parents are not aware of it at times, children gradually begin to recognize death and accumulate questions in their minds about it. Behind this questioning, there may be a dead animal they see on the street, a death news they hear on television. Helping them talk about death will be helpful in reducing their uncertainty about this issue, preparing them for possible crisis situations and reducing their anxiety,” he said.

“Every age has a different mourning process”

Stating that children’s reactions to death vary according to their ages and experiences, Uzm. Ps. Dabağer stated that every age is a different process of mourning and making sense of death.

0-2 Years

Any lengthy separation from a loved one is painful for children this age, and they are likely to cry, withdraw, and become angry. They cannot understand that death is certain, and the longer the separation, the greater their sadness will be.

3-5 years

Young children still do not understand that death is eternal and may repeatedly ask if their loved one will return. They begin to understand simple explanations such as your mother can no longer breathe, speak, or move. In this process, they may think that something they did caused the death, for example, they may have a thought pattern that my mother will not come back because I was misbehaving.

6-11 years

At this age, children begin to understand that death is eternal, that the person they love cannot return, and that death can happen to anyone, so they may begin to worry that other loved ones or family members or friends will die. In this age range, physical symptoms of pain and anger are very common. This anger may be directed at the deceased loved one and/or themselves.

12 years-Adolescence

Adolescents understand that death is irreversible and can happen to anyone, including themselves. They are interested in understanding why things happen. Their reactions can range from “looking careless” to anger or extreme sadness, poor concentration and loss of interest in daily activities.

“There are some elements that we should pay attention to when talking about death with children”

Stating that parents sometimes avoid talking about death with their children, Dabağer said, “This situation causes the child to worry more because the fear of the unknown is always more difficult for children than facing the truth. At this point, the child may think that if this subject is not talked about, then this is a bad situation and I should not talk, and this may prevent him from worrying more and expressing his feelings. Another is to give too many details when talking to children about death, to speak in a language that children do not understand. At this point, it is very important to establish a balance. At this point, you can prepare a speech by paying attention to the following items” and stated the following points to be careful about:

Care should be taken that children are willing and ready to talk.
Try to understand and accept the emotions (anger, fear, sadness, etc.) they feel during the conversation.
Prepare a simple and age-appropriate answer to the questions they might ask in your own mind.
Every child is different in how they express and deal with their emotions, so give them the time they need and respect them.
Sometimes we can be affected by the question that children ask and we can have difficulty in answering. In such a situation, prefer to answer the question with a question. For example, to the question of “can’t we be happy anymore?” ask “do you think we will be happy?” and try to understand his feeling by making him talk more.
Feel free to use the word death and don’t use other words instead of the word death. (eg went, slept, etc.) .
If a deceased person asks where they are going, you can say, “We can’t see the dead people again, but we always feel our love for them, if you want, we can look at their pictures together”.
Children may feel guilt and anger when their loved one dies. At this point, reassure them that you, as parents, will give them the love and attention they need.
Don’t forget to get expert support.

Source: (BYZHA) – Beyaz News Agency

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