How to explain the loss of a parent to a child

Death, something so close to life and so feared by all. Few are the cultures in which death does not only mean drama and pain. But for there to be life there must be death and it would be logical for us to know this from childhood. In this way, the present moment would be valued more, we would try harder to enjoy and make others happy.

Unfortunately, this is not the case in general and death is usually a taboo subject for children , who when forced to face it do not know what is happening, they are afraid and we have no idea where to start helping them .

It is convenient that we reflect on this in order, perhaps, to focus the education of our children in this aspect in another way, perhaps more naturally, less secretively and making them see that although it hurts, death is part of life itself, because if not, that life as we know it would end.

Leaving aside the spiritual beliefs of each one, which are very personal, we are going to talk about the most painful loss because it is close, that of the father or mother, trying to give a global and useful vision of this complex experience .

How to help the little one when we ourselves are destroyed? It is not easy at all and each experience is different just like each child is different, but there are 3 ways of approaching it common to all situations and they are these:

  1. Talk to him and not lie to him

This is perhaps the most important thing. Let the little one know what happens. Depending on his age, he can be guided in different ways, but never isolated or ignored. Perhaps we think that in order not to harm them, it is better to hide information from them and, on the contrary, for them the most painful thing is precisely not knowing what is happening, because they torment themselves with restlessness at the same time that they notice that everything around them is transformed and mom or dad is not there.

  1. Convey serenity

On the one hand, we have to let him express his emotions: anger, crying or anger. It is logical that you act like this and it is convenient for you to vent because it is the key to start to overcome it later. But on the other hand we must be his beacon of calm even if it costs us. His world has been broken and chaos has spread in the family and at home, as is logical when something like this happens, and the most valuable thing we can do for him is to try to be calm and strong even if he also sees us hurt. Sensing our serenity will make you feel safe. And if you need a hug in silence what better than our firm arms that will make you believe that everything will return to its place even if it seems impossible.

  1. Love him without limit

It is about comforting the inconsolable and that is only possible from the deepest love. Hug him, kiss him, play with him, smile at him, make him laugh, listen to him, shake his hand, caress him, accompany him, sing to him, jump, run, talk about whatever he wants, read together, go for a walk… He has suddenly felt what emptiness is and you don’t know what to do to avoid pain. We can’t fill that void completely, but we can ease the horrible feeling with lots of love.

Ultimately it is about being with the little one in the broadest sense of the word, that they feel support. And believe me, don’t be afraid to tell him what happened : for example, that mom or dad are no longer here because their life cycle on earth has ended, but that from now on they will live in it and feel them whenever you want and need them. Children understand explanations if they are clear, precise and made from love. Remembering anecdotes and telling them things about the father or mother that they did not know (from when they were young or things that they do not remember because they were very young) so that they normalize the situation, do not forget it and their memory lives on, helping them to relocate that presence in their lives.

With patience everything will be channeled because the world follows its course and everything passes, no matter how painful it is. Meanwhile, we will grow as people and the child will mature in this delicate process.

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