Death In The Family- Handling Loss of Loved One


How do you explain death to a child? What do you do if you don't believe in Heaven? What is death?


What is dead? What if we bury Grandpa and then he wakes up? Will I die if I go to sleep? I hate him for dying, he said he would take me fishing. Death in the family is always difficult, but more so when it is someone close who is trying to deal with the grief.

We Have All Lost Something or Someone

Each one of us will at some point in our lives lose something or someone who is very precious to us. While I may not know exactly how you feel, and it would be presumptuous to say that, I have experienced the terrible loss of someone central in my life.

As children we encountered family deaths, divorces or transitions that were painful and confusing. Many adults tell me the most painful death they have experienced was the loss of a beloved pet as a child. Many parents do not realize the depth of love that a child may feel for a pet, and so will treat the incidence with little regard for feelings.

As we look back at our life experiences, it is how the first encounter of death is handled, that sets a pattern for the rest of our lives. If all members of the family are allowed to express their feelings openly and get questions answered honestly, it can bring a closeness and healing.

Finding Windows Of Hope

Many times parents will assume that by not talking about the death of a close family member, they will somehow protect their children from the sadness and worry. On the contrary, children tend to "feel the tension" and wonder about what has happened. Because their scope and experience is so small, they may blame themselves for causing the death.

They also may keep the grief inside, where it causes a hurt that never heals. The best way to handle either an impending death or the actual loss is to talk openly and feel comfortable expressing emotions. When relatives and friends are more inclusive of the whole family, it encourages healing and hope.

Questions To Think About

What was your first experience losing a loved one? Was it a pet or a person?
How did adults involve you in the grief process?
Were you allowed to say good by in your own way?

Did you feel a closure?
What would you recommend other families do deal with losing someone close to death?

You are invited to share insights and observations at You will also be able to claim a free report on coping with grief, loss and change. You will be glad you did.

Thanks for joining our community of caring parents, family members,coaches, teachers and mentors who want to help raise a generation of responsible adults who respect others.

You are welcome to use this article in your blog or magazine. Please give credit to Judy Helm Wright aka Auntie Artichoke, family relationship author and keynote speaker. She can be reached at 406-549-9813 or at


This article was originally published at . Reprinted with permission from the author.