In explaining death to a child, euphemisms such as “they’re lost” or “they have gone to sleep for a very long time” can be unhelpful.
A child’s mind goes to ‘Lost? - Where?And have you found them yet?’ and ‘Gone to sleep? When will they wake up?’
Children process as children would, in far simpler ways than an adult, so it is important to meet them where they are at.
Listening to Shirley Potts, of Child Bereavement UK, she described death, and in particular remains of those who have passed, to children as being like a conker, highlighting basic truths were far more helpful in a child’s understanding of what is going on than euphemisms.
Shirley went on to say when a person has died, they have no life in them anymore, essentially an empty shell that is no longer required. The conker itself represents all the love and the memories we hold onto.
But it is the empty shell we respectfully place in a coffin and bury when we have a funeral.
In its’ simplicity, a beautiful way to describe death and what happens to a child.