How to Speak to Children about Death

child doll on window sill

Death! It’s a scary enough proposition even for adults, so just imagine the daunting prospect it can represent to those too young to fully understand the concept. However, talking about death with your children is a vital stage in their development, which will help them to adjust to the natural way of things and cope with the loss of a loved one when it does inevitably happen.

Many people feel uncomfortable or challenged when they are asked about death by a child. If you’re unsure how to respond to their questions, read over the tips below and prepare your answers accordingly. After all, it could be one of the most important chats you ever have with them.

Choose your moment carefully

There’s no “good” time to talk about death, but if the topic surfaces naturally, don’t shy away from it. Fictional tales (for examples, Disney and Pixar films) are an excellent accessible segue into such a conversation, since they allow you to approach a complex idea from a simple angle. The death of a family pet represents a similar opportunity.

Keep things simple

At such a young age, many children can’t fully grasp what it means to die. Lay it out for them in uncomplicated, concrete terms, explaining that someone who has died will no longer breathe, or speak, or hear, or eat, and that we won’t be able to see them ever again. Gently but firmly convey the finality of death, since many fictional stories feature the resurrection of heroes and heroines, which can cause confusion.

Relate it to something relevant

The natural world is full of examples of death which can be easier for youngsters to digest and comprehend. For example, you could use the falling of leaves in autumn to symbolise how a tree gives birth to new life every year, which eventually withers away and dies.

Always be honest

It might be tempting to fudge your answers to a child, telling them a relative is simply sleeping or has gone away. However, this could give them neuroses about their own state – they may be afraid of going to bed or worry that you will “go away” as well. Even if they ask about your or their own mortality, it’s vital you keep your answers honest.

Reassure repeatedly

Despite this, you don’t want to frighten them with the imminent proposition that any of us could die at any moment. Instead, confirm that we will all die one day, but that most people live for a very, very long time and that you expect both yourself and the child to do so, as well.

Educate, don’t indoctrinate

Depending on your specific beliefs, you may wish to tell your child certain things about the afterlife. It’s completely natural to pass down a religion from one generation to the next, but you should still aim to inform the child that other people believe in other things. What’s more, you shouldn’t be afraid of simply revealing that no one actually knows where we go when we die. Be careful to accompany such statements with reassurance, however, since this admission could cause worry.

If a child close to you is coping with a bereavement, keep a close eye on them and ask them to tell you about their emotions. Explain that it’s natural to feel confused or overwhelmed, and it’ also important to discuss how other adults may behave differently and be upset. If you think it’s necessary you can suggest a councillor who has experience in bereavement for children.

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The price quoted contains the Funeral Director fees for a simple funeral. This includes:

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  • Collection of the deceased and care prior to funeral
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  • Basic coffin

The Funeral Director fees quoted do not include third party costs (often called disbursements). The Funeral Director will guide you through your options. These costs are:

  • Cremation or burial fees
  • Medical certificate for cremation
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In addition to the disbursements you may want to discuss optional costs with your Funeral Director - these could include:

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What is a Direct Cremation?

A Direct Cremation is an alternative to the traditional funeral. This involves the cremation of the deceased without a funeral service. A Direct Cremation is generally the most economic option because costs of the coffin, preparation of the body, funeral service and expensive transportation are not included. However, many people choose Direct Cremations for reasons other than expense, for example:

  • - Wanting to have a memorial at a different time to the cremation
  • - Expressed desire from the deceased to not have a ceremony
  • - Individuals with relatives who face big physical or geographical challenges in coming together for a ceremony

The prices quoted for Direct Cremations include:

  • All charges, meetings and paperwork for the cremation
  • Collection of deceased and care prior to cremation
  • A simple coffin and urn for the ashes
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Attended funeral

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This price includes the following:

  • Taking care of all necessary legal and administrative arrangements
  • Collecting and transporting the deceased person from the place of death (normally within 15 miles of the funeral director’s premises) into the funeral director’s care
  • Care of the deceased person before the funeral in appropriate facilities.
  • Providing a suitable coffin
  • Optional viewing of the deceased person for family and friends, by appointment with the funeral director
  • At a date and time you agree with the funeral director, taking the deceased person direct to the agreed cemetery or crematorium (normally within 20 miles of the funeral director’s premises) in a hearse or other appropriate vehicle

In addition to the Funeral Director’s fee, there will be third party costs to consider (sometimes called disbursements) to cover the other aspects of a funeral (such as the crematorium or burial fees). Your chosen Funeral Director will be able to provide these for you.

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Unattended funeral

This is Funeral Choice’s best estimate of this Funeral Director’s fees and the crematorium fee for an Unattended Funeral, which is where family and friends may choose to have a ceremony, event or service for the deceased person, but they do not attend the burial or cremation itself. This is also known as a Direct Cremation.

This price includes the following:

  • Funeral Director's fees
  • Crematorium fee (for an unattended funeral) as selected by the Funeral Director

In addition to this fee, there might be additional third party costs to consider (sometimes called disbursements). Your chosen Funeral Director will be able to explain these for you.

If you wish to attend the funeral, you should view the “Attended Funeral” price instead.

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Why is this price Estimated?

We work hard to ensure the Funeral Director Fees we display are accurate and up to date. However, unlike with our partners, we cannot guarantee this price is correct today.

Funeral Director fees

The price quoted contains the Funeral Director fees for a simple funeral. This includes:

  • Funeral Director fees for meetings, paperwork and running the funeral
  • Collection of the deceased and care prior to funeral
  • Hearse or appropriate vehicle for transport to the funeral
  • Basic coffin

The Funeral Director fees quoted do not include third party costs (often called disbursements). The Funeral Director will guide you through your options. These costs are:

  • Cremation or burial fees
  • Medical certificate for cremation
  • Clergy or officiant fee for conducting the ceremony

In addition to the disbursements you may want to discuss optional costs with your Funeral Director - these could include:

  • Funeral flowers
  • Memorial (venue hire, catering etc)
  • Memorial headstone
  • Orders of service
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