Death is one of the few constants in life that you can’t avoid. Ironically, that makes it one of the most avoided topics around! Nobody wants to talk about or even think about the prospect of death. Why would you? It’s not an enjoyable thing to think about at all, and it usually brings feelings of sadness.
With that being said, it is a very important topic to discuss. Whether you want to admit it or not, we all die someday. Even worse, you will likely experience a death in your family while you are still alive. If you have no idea of dealing with this, it hits you a lot harder than you expect. Many people are overwhelmed by death simply because it’s never discussed and you don’t know what to do when it happens. Things are made considerably worse when you have children – how do you explain to them what happened? How can you help them deal with death in your family?
So, that’s what this post is going to look at. In this guide, you will find some advice and guidance on how to deal with death in your family. This doesn’t just include human deaths, all the points relate to pets as well. Without further ado, here’s your guide:
Acknowledge what has happened
Some people think that hiding from your pain is an easy way of dealing with grief. If you pretend you’re not hurting, pretty soon you forget about the pain. It’s only when you see it written down that you realize how stupid this idea is. Hiding your pain will do nothing to help you, so don’t bother. Instead, you have to face up to it as a family and acknowledge what has happened.
For me, the key thing is to keep your kids in the loop. No parent wants to tell a child that their grandparents have died or the pet dog is no longer with them. As a result, it’s easy to lie to your kids and pretend that everything is okay, just to keep them happy. This is a natural response as you always want to protect your children and keep them away from anything bad. In trying to save their feelings, you do more damage than good. Your child will just end up confused and wonder what is going on and why Granny isn’t visiting anymore or why the dog went to live on a farm.
It’s never easy to talk about sensitive things with your kids, let alone confront death. Still, you have to do this if you want the whole family to grieve. Be upfront with them and explain what happened. From here, you can all grieve together and act as a support network to ensure you’re all okay. Acknowledging death and grief is no easy feat, but it’s far better than hiding from the pain.
Don’t be afraid to talk and share memories
On the topic of opening up and telling your children someone has died, you also shouldn’t be afraid to talk about what’s happened. This goes beyond explaining that someone has died and is more about reminiscing. No matter how sad it makes you, it’s always helpful to talk about the person or pet that passed away. Recount your favorite memories as a family or encourage your child to think about the good times.
Yes, it’s hard and there will be pain. You will realize just how much you’re going to miss whoever died. However, you’re going to think about them no matter what. You won’t instantly stop reminiscing about your mother or father when they pass away. It’s normal to think about the good times and get emotional. If you don’t talk about it and share memories, you bottle up the emotions inside you. Ultimately, they will come out someday, and it will often be a lot worse is they burst through in one go than if you let your emotions run free.
Furthermore, if you don’t talk about memories, your kids will assume they shouldn’t as well. This will often lead to kids grieving on their own and spending too much time in their rooms. They cry all by themselves because they don’t want to appear ‘weak’ in front of the family. If you open up to them and share your thoughts and feelings, they’ll know it’s the right thing to do. As a result, they can be more open with their grieving and avoid grieving alone.
Commemorate your loved one
It can seem like the goal of grieving is to forget about death as quickly as possible. At least, lots of people worry that they will forget about the person they loved when they’re gone. In reality, grieving and coping with death is about accepting that it has happened and that there’s no going back. You don’t forget about your loved one, which is why you recount memories and tell stories with your family.
On the same note, it’s a smart idea to commemorate your loved one as a constant reminder of them. You can do this in many different ways depending on what they meant to you. If your partner or sibling or parent dies, you want to keep them with you wherever you go. Things like cremation jewelry for ashes from Memorials.com are ideal in this situation. You are literally carrying them with you whenever you wear your jewelry. In other instances, you can opt for something simpler like a special photo or a collage. Hang it on your wall and it’s a constant reminder of the person or pet you lost.
Commemorating someone can also mean that you remember them on the day of their death for years to come. Take a moment to reflect on this date so you recount your loved one and think deeply about them. Doing things like this will ensure they never leave your thoughts even when you’ve accepted that they are no longer with you.
Recognize we all grieve differently
The final point is arguably the most vital of them all. Don’t make the mistake of thinking everyone grieves at the same pace. You might deal with death a lot better than your partner or your kids. If this is the case, you have to let them reach the end of their grieving process. Don’t make them feel bad if they’re still grieving for months after you’ve come to terms with everything. Likewise, don’t feel bad if you’re still grieving and everyone else is moving on with their lives!
We all move at different paces and our emotions act in certain ways. Realize that everyone in your family is on their own personal journey. Stick together through thick and thin to ensure everyone is supported by one another. If your children are grieving for longer than you, be sure you are always there for them. Offer a shoulder to cry on or someone to talk to. The only way you will get through a situation like this is by sticking together.
To end this piece, I again want to state that I know this is a sensitive topic. It isn’t something you have probably ever thought about before. If you’ve found this piece because you’ve had a death in your family, I can only hope it has provided some advice to help you get through this tragic time. For those of you lucky enough to not experience death yet, I hope this guide gives you something to think about. It will never make death easier to cope with, but it can help you understand the steps to take when it happens.