Honesty is definitely the best policy when explaining death to a child or else they may develop fears and misconceptions.
However, you need not delve deep in the topic as the child may not understand all your points. Moreover, it can scare young children.
Thus, the trick is to explain as much as the child can handle. This often depends on the child’s age, personality, life experiences, etc. In addition, it is recommended to encourage an atmosphere of comfort and openness.
Moreover, be patient while talking about death with kids as they may repeatedly ask the same questions from time to time.
Clear their doubts as much as possible or else they may create their own whimsical reasons and explanations, especially kids in range of 5 to 9 years of age. Kids under the age of 5 usually have a hard time understanding that death is irreversible.
Try to be specific while answering the questions. In fact, your answers can be simple and brief so that the child does not become overwhelmed.
Avoid giving explanations like the deceased “was so sick,” “has gone away,” or “has gone to sleep,” etc. These statements can make the child develop fear of sleep, sickness, or parents leaving the house for work.
Therefore, it is better to briefly explain the cause of death. This, however, may not be easy in case of a suicide.
Nevertheless, you need to reassure and comfort the child so that he or she does not think himself or herself responsible for the suicide and feel guilty about it.
Furthermore, do not hesitate in accepting that you do not know certain answers instead of providing explanations that you yourself do not believe in. You may also share your spiritual beliefs with the child.
Moreover, religious explanations are extremely useful in this regard. In fact, you can take help from a religious leader. Nonetheless, make sure someone close to the child also discusses this matter with him or her in a familiar setting like the living room.
In addition, it is suggested to remain calm and composed while talking with children about death. However, you need not hide your feelings and emotions completely.
This way, even they can understand that it is okay to mourn over a loss. Though not easy still, take it as an opportunity to help them learn about death.
To help the child cope with loss of a family member, you may involve him or her in the funeral or memorial service.
If the funeral is to be followed by cremation, it is again difficult to explain cremation to the child. To get help on this topic, you may visit the Cremation Resource website.
Here is an article giving tips on how to explain death to children. Besides, you can consult a counselor and read some books about helping kids deal with death in a family or coping with pet loss.
Remember, it is essential to help children understand death and dying comfortably because it is going to affect the way they grief in the future.