Anniversary Of 9/11 Offers Opportunity To Teach Kids About Death


pet burial bury funeral child dig
How parents can transition the anniversary of 9/11 into a meaningful conversation with their kids.

As parents, we must engage in many unpleasant and difficult situations. It's the tough talks that our children remember. Explaining death is one of those topics. Our kids are exposed to death each day. Listen to the new, or watch cartoons in the morning and you will find yourself astonished by all the violence and references to death. Our children have become somewhat desensitized by death until it happens to a pet, a family member or a national crisis such as what happened ten years ago on September 11.

A pet's death or a baby bird dead on the sidewalk can provide opportunities to talk with your child. You must remember that your child sees these incidences in concrete terms. Birds are always in the nest and hamsters stay in a cage. The child thinks this is the way it is, and when they see something out of the ordinary, they feel sad, and they also get somewhat anxious about what may happen to them. Sex Ed Is A Parent's Job


Part of your child's concrete thinking is their "magical thinking." They may feel like they will see the animal or loved one the next day. They cannot understand heaven and may think it unusual that a loved animal or family member went there without saying goodbye or taking them along. Just as you teach your child how to brush their teeth and tie their shoes, you must teach them how to grieve. Creating a scrap book or looking for old photos of your child with this loved animal or loved person will help them feel the sadness so they can move on without guilt or shame.

Many parents see their child crying and discourage their reaction. This is actually harmful, and although it is difficult to watch your child cry and not be able to fix the situation it is important to allow your child to express their sadness and grieve. Children watch their parents and learn how to react to death. If a parent cries freely and is still able to remember happy times with the loved person or pet the child learns it is okay to cry and feel sad but it is also okay to be joyful even though the person or animal they loved has died. Funerals are sad, and your child has little experience with them. It is wise to help your child prepare for what they may see or hear.

If your child is very upset it may be wise to include them with other family gatherings but not the funeral itself. Talk with your child about it. Many times they know what will be best for them and never pressure them into doing something in which they are afraid to participate. It may be helpful for you to give the child something from the loved one. This will allow your child to have something tangible to hold onto and by which to remember the loved one. For example a watch, or a favorite scarf from the loved one, or a collar or water dish from a pet that died will help your child let go in their own time.

Article contributed by

Mary Jo Rapini


For more information go to:
Talk to me on my fan page:
Tweet me: @MaryJoRapini
Read my Love and Relationships Blog on
Ask me questions on Fox26 in Houston, TX and watch every Thursday Morning at 9am for “Mind, Body, Soul with Mary Jo” and Friday Morning's at 8am for “Healthy Happy Hour with Mary Jo”

Location: Houston, TX
Credentials: LPC
Other Articles/News by Mary Jo Rapini:

8 ways to be less miserable


Misery loves company and according to Sonja Lyubomirsky, a researcher at the University of California, 40% of your capacity for happiness or contentment is dependent upon your ability to change. You don’t have to look far to meet truly miserable people, and question why they continue to live a life of misery. Since most of us bounce back and forth ... Read more

The 10 Best Christmas Gifts For Him (And They're Free!)


In relationships, we emphasize the importance of building one another up, rather than pointing fingers and blaming; but, guys live in a much different world than women do. This is why the best gifts for him are free. Women are networkers and they bond and connect with other women. Guys are competitive, focused and constantly looking over their shoulder to ... Read more

5 Ways To Stuff Your Turkey With Gratitude


Many of us grew up sharing Thanksgiving with family around the dining room table. Our parents or grandparents usually hosted the meal, and we ate with family and became re-acquainted with family we may not have seen since the Thanksgiving before. Times have changed and family members may have moved due to work obligations, school choices and raising families of ... Read more

See More

Latest Expert Videos
Must-see Videos
Most Popular