Death can be confusing to adults, and even more confusing for children. It’s important to use clear, simple language to help them understand. Young children can be quite literal. A child may have been upset about sharing attention with a new baby. A younger child may imagine or believe they caused the baby to die.
Try not to say things like “the baby was sick”. A child may be scared that something may happen the next time someone is sick. If you say the “baby has gone to heaven” explain what heaven is. Otherwise they may wonder when the baby will come back. Tell a child the baby has died and explain what death means.
Your child may ask the same questions over and over again. Be gentle with them and answer the questions as they come up. Try not to overwhelm them with too much information. Children will let you know by their questions and actions when they’ve heard too much.
Include your children in remembering your baby.
- A photo or their own drawings can help with them understand what the baby looked like. If a child isn’t ready to or doesn’t want to see photos, wait until they are ready.
- They might help give the baby a name, or draw a picture.
- You may choose to plant a tree, or release a balloon or light a candle.