Big Conversations 

When supporting children and young people who have been bereaved, it’s important to use clear and direct language, and be as honest as you can be with that young person about the situation. 
Children are likely to experience a whole range of emotions from anger, sadness, to acting normal and saying nothing at all and can jump quickly between these things – this is normal. Most children are very resilient and can surprise you by how much they already know or understand. 

Children and young people may have lots of questions around death and dying and it’s important to give them opportunities to explore these questions with trusted adults. 

How do you approach these conversations? 
Be honest:It's important to be honest with children when talking about death and dying. They may have many questions and it's important to explain to them as simply as possible what has happened/is likely to happen. 
Use straightforward language: Children can find it confusing when we say someone has “gone to sleep” or passed away” so try to use straightforward language like ‘death’ or ‘dying’. Sometimes as adults we think certain words can sound too harsh for young children but using straightforward language avoids any confusion. 
It’s ok to feel emotions: Children will experience a whole range of different emotions when faced with any death. By sharing how you feel with your children, you create a safe space to talk about emotions. Let them know that it’s OK to cry or feel upset, as well as having times when you feel ok or happy.  
The national charity, Child Bereavement UK is a useful resource for tools and tips on how to explain death to children. They also offer a helpful guide to children’s understanding of death at different ages. To view this information please click here.