The following is taken directly from Linda Goldman’s website
These tips from Linda provide excellent and succinct advice on how we can all support bereaved children
Be truthful. Children have a conscious or unconscious knowing if they are not told the truth. Then they suffer another loss of the trust of the adults around them,
Keep explanations simple. More is not always better. Children are often content with a simple answer, knowing they can come back if they have more questions.
Share the facts. In simple and concrete language, share the facts with children about what happened to their person in age-appropriate ways.
Remind children it was not their fault. Too often children are filled with magical thinking and can too easily find a reason why they caused their person to die.
Define death. Death is when the body stops working. Usually people die when they are very, very old, or very, very sick, or their bodies are so injured that the doctors or nurses can’t make their bodies work any more.
Allow children to be recognised mourners. Invite and prepare children to be part of the family grief process. They can read a poem at the memorial, place a picture in Grandfather’s coffin, or plant a flower for their dog Scruffy.
Remember children grieve differently. Boys and girls grieve differently than adults. What may appear to be a frivolous play activity may actually be a very profound way youngsters are processing their grief.
Treat every child and their grief as unique. Children grieve as differently as they are individuals. Some might cry and share her feelings,. Others may appear not to feel anything at all.
Include children in family illness. A sick family member that may be terminally ill is a challenge for all family members. Including children allows them to understand what is going on, participate in helping, and be prepared for what happens in the future.
Honour a child’s belief system. Children begin to formulate their own spiritual belief system at a young age. Feeling their person is with them, or with God can be important in their healing process. Respecting their experience is essential.
Prepare children for funerals and memorials. Children should be prepared and invited to these events, but never forced. They should be invited to ask questions about the service, and see how the community comes together to honor a life and say goodbye.
Adapted from Goldman, Great Answers to Difficult Questions About Death: What Children Need to Know, 2008, p. 105-106.