Death may be difficult to comprehend at any age, but it can be particularly confusing and scary to young children.
The U.S. National Library of Medicine offers these suggestions when talking to children about death:
* Keep your explanation honest, simple, and on a level that's appropriate for the child's age. * Understand that death can cause fears and confusion in many children. * Talk about it as openly as possible when they ask questions or if a situation occurs that requires you to discuss it. * Talk about your feelings -- fear, sadness, anger and anything else you feel. Show your child that the emotions they have are normal. * Help children understand that they had nothing to do with the death. The person did not die because of something the children did, and they could not have prevented it from happening.
Health Tip: Experience Grief as a Healthy Emotion
Grief is a normal, healthy emotion experienced when a person has a significant loss, such as the death of someone close, or even the end of a relationship.
The American Academy of Family Physicians lists these common symptoms of grief:
* Numbness, shock and denial are common initially. * Feelings of abandonment may occur once reality has set in. * Anger -- directed at the person who is gone, yourself, others and even religion -- is common. * Temporary depression and guilt may set in once the grieving person realizes what the loss means. * Thinking frequently about the person and reliving memories are normal reactions, as well. * Little by little, you should begin to feel better. Eventually, you should begin to focus on resuming relationships and activities. It's not uncommon to initially feel "disloyal" to someone as you start to move on.