Talking to Children About Death: What do I do?

cemetaryDeath is a difficult topic for many people to talk about, and talking to children about death is terrifying at best. As adults, we try to soften the blow and talk around the subject in order to protect them, but instead cause confusion and anxiety.

What’s Your Grief is a website whose mission is “to promote grief education, exploration, and expression in both practical and creative ways.” It offers resources for families, professionals, and anyone interested in learning more about grief and how to cope after a loss.

A recent post on the site explores the dangers in speaking to children about death in euphemisms and even includes videos with children to illustrate the danger of talking around the topic:

When faced with death, or even when curious about it, it’s up to adults in a child’s life to explain things in a way that is clear and honest.  Up until a certain age kids are very concrete thinkers and I know being straightforward seems callous and potentially damaging, especially because we want to protect the young, but in reality we must be straightforward with them.  If we aren’t, we run the risk of leaving them confused.

In order to illustrate this, I have addressed some of the most common euphemisms with two children whom I believe have had much more straight-talk about death than the average child (because I’m griefy, what?).  If they’re generally confused, you can bet your bottom dollar most children will be as well… (read the entire article here)

If you need help talking to a child about death, Calvert Hospice can help. We offer a full range of bereavement services. For more information, contact Melinda Ruppert, Bereavement Coordinator, at 410-535-0892 or