Blog — Dr Emily McClatchey

Kids Struggle To Understand: Part Two

Advice for Grandparents Advice for Parents Blog Post Children and Loss Dr Emily McClatchey How do we talk to children about death Kidolences Blog Professional Help Talking to Children Understanding Death

Kids Struggle To Understand: Part Two

If we refuse to talk to children about death, or we somehow signal that we must remain silent about loss, we are doing a disservice to the child and missing an opportunity to help them understand and make sense. Rather than explore what to avoid, let’s talk about proactive steps you can take to help your kids understand death.

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Kids Struggle to Understand: Part One

Advice for Grandparents Advice for Parents Blog Post Children and Loss Dr Emily McClatchey How do we talk to children about death Kidolences Blog Professional Help Talking to Children Understanding Death

Kids Struggle to Understand: Part One

Any time there is a death, you will inevitably hear (and perhaps even mutter yourself), “I just can’t believe it,” or “I can’t wrap my mind around it.” At any age, disbelief and denial are common responses to loss. It is difficult to comprehend death, and when discombobulating grief overlays our mind’s struggle to make sense of tragedy, we may find ourselves at a total loss. It is inevitable that anyone would have difficulty making meaning of death. So, how do we approach the concept of death with our children?

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Kids Feel Guilty

Advice for Grandparents Advice for Parents Blog Post Children and Loss Dr Emily McClatchey How do we talk to children about death Kidolences Blog Professional Help Talking to Children Understanding Death

Kids Feel Guilty

Although it is completely unwarranted for a child to feel guilty about the death or departure of a loved one, guilt is a common response in children. In times of loss, children need to be reassured that their love is stronger than their hate.

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Kids Seek Validation

Advice for Grandparents Advice for Parents Blog Post Children and Loss Dr Emily McClatchey How do we talk to children about death Kidolences Blog Professional Help Talking to Children Understanding Death

Kids Seek Validation

Adults typically respond in two ways to a child's loss: either total silence because they are concerned they could upset the child further (which to the child, must feel identical to being ignored), or fawning sentimentality that may comfort the adult, but can confuse a child who doesn't know how to express what they are feeling. 

I don’t think any of us intentionally ignore or disregard or smother children when they are experiencing grief, I just think that is often the unintentional outcome of our own fumbling discomfort with death and sympathy.

 

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A Guide on How to Help Kids Cope with a Broken Heart

Advice for Grandparents Advice for Parents Blog Post Children and Loss Dr Emily McClatchey How do we talk to children about death Kidolences Blog Kidolences Origin Professional Help Talking to Children Understanding Death

A Guide on How to Help Kids Cope with a Broken Heart

I had a PhD, a body of research focused on childhood trauma and recovery, and a decade of clinical experience helping kids deal and heal, yet I was now at a total loss. It was as if I spent half of my life preparing for and helping others navigate terrain such as this, but when it was my turn, I froze. It is true that there are simply things in life you can never prepare for, no matter how hard you work. 

I know now from my research and experience that there is consensus among experts and parents about a few basic tried and true tenets for helping kids cope with grief, loss and change. I've boiled them down for my own personal use with my children, for the next crisis, big or small, that will inevitably occur. It occurred to me that this is helpful for me, it might be helpful for you, too. 

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