Good Grief: How to Talk to Kids About Death at Every Age

Having to explain the loss of a loved one to a child can seem overwhelming, but it doesn't have to be. Here's how to talk to kids about death at every age (18 Photos)

Lesley Kennedy on Aug 6, 2012 at 5:35PM

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How to Talk to Kids About Death, Age by Age

Dennis Macdonald/Photolibrary/getty

a Lesley Kennedy on Jul 19, 2012 at 12:01PM

It may be uncomfortable, emotional and even downright scary to talk to kids about death, but it's inevitable and, at some point, you almost certainly will need to discuss the loss of a loved one with your child. But it can be hard to know how much to say to your kid or how to say it. Here's how to talk to your kids about death at every age.

Define What Death Is

Discussing death with a child can seem like such a big task that it's easy for parents to skip over the basics by accident. If you have a young child, start by making sure that she understands the general concept of death, says Linda Goldman, author of Life and Loss: A Guide to Help Grieving Children. You can find the language that works best for you, but something simple is a good place to start. "You might say: Death is when the body stops working. People usually die when they're very old or very sick and doctors or nurses can't make them work any more," says Goldman. "Just having that initial dialog is helpful."  

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