My local community is mourning the loss of a young boy named Kobe who was in a tragic motorcycle accident several days ago and was taken off of life support last night. This morning I’ll be at our local middle school to counsel with students trying to grapple with the loss of a friend and classmate.
Death is always hard, but it’s especially difficult for children to process. If you’re a parent trying to help your kids process death, here are a few things to remember:
1. Don’t avoid it. In today’s digitally connected world, your child will unfortunately encounter death far earlier than you’re comfortable with. If you avoid the subject, your child will simply get information from somewhere else. Be proactive and have the conversation, as difficult as it will be, as unprepared as you might feel.
2. Be honest. It’s okay if you don’t know all the answers. Answer what you know, clearly. This isn’t like the time your goldfish died and you got away with “He went to the fish doctor and he’ll be back later,” waiting for them to forget about it and move on. Euphemisms won’t do it justice. Use clear terms. “Kobe died last night.”3. Let them see you grieve. You don’t have to hold it all together. It’s okay if your child cries. It’s okay if you cry. Death is always tragic. Mourning is a natural and healthy part of the grieving process. By them seeing you grieve, you’re showing them the proper way to grieve themselves.
4. Talk about the afterlife. As Christians, we believe that this world is not the end. If you’re secure in the deceased’s salvation, talk about your lost loved one in the present tense, not the past. They’re not gone forever, they’ve just gone ahead of us to heaven. They’re waiting there for us.
5. Always point to the hope we have in Jesus. Any time we talk about big issues like life and death, it’s an opportunity to talk about the most important things in life. Talk about Jesus. Talk about God. Talk about heaven. Always point your child to the hope we have in Jesus. He will walk with us through the darkest valleys, no matter what age we are. Jesus can help your child grieve a loss in a way even you as a parent never could. Point your child to Jesus.
Thanks to Focus on the Family for posting an article that gave me several tips for this article.