May 9, 2012

Comforting your child at his grandfather's funeral

One of the hardest things for a parent to do is to explain death to a child, and especially if it is his favorite person, his grandfather who is on his deathbed. Your child has seen his grandfather take ill and go to hospital in an ambulance, and the house is quiet and there is a morbid atmosphere as the family starts to arrive. Your five year old son asks you what is wrong. You are at a loss for words. From this article you will learn how to comfort and respond to your son.

• Take him into his room where his toys are and he is familiar with his surroundings. Put him on your lap and tell him his grandfather has just died. He will probably tinker with one of his toys, not saying anything. Ask him if remembers the time one of his fish died in the bowl and you gave him a funeral where he said a prayer for the fish and then flushed it in the toilet. He might smile at the memory and come back to the question of death.

• If he asks you what you mean that Grandpa has died, tell him that his grandfather had passed into another world. Grandpa won’t be with the family forever and it was time for him to go.

• This is an important talk, so don’t rush it. If he takes his time responding, hear what he has to say. He might ask if his grandfather is going to be alone. Explain that his grandfather will be dressed in his best clothes and will go to the funeral parlor where the family and Grandpa’s friends will come to pay their last respects and say goodbye.

• Ask him if he has any questions. Hold him to you and let him digest the information. If he asks you where Grandpa is going to go, tell him the truth and say that Grandpa is going to be in his coffin and that the body will be buried. Add that Grandpa is with Jesus now and would not want him to cry for his grandfather. Reassure him that you will still be there and that you and his father are not going to leave him.

• If he cries, encourage him to let it out. Tell him that it is good for him and tell him again to ask if he has any questions. Tell him he must not worry because Grandpa is still alive in spirit and will always be near him.

• Let up on the questions and tell him to come with you; that you are going to give him a nice glass of hot chocolate and then you will play with your toys and go to bed. Spend time with him in his room and ask him if he wants you to read a story. Stay with him until he is ready to fall asleep. Put on the night light so he does not become afraid of the dark.

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