When is the best time to tell a child about a death?

Talking to children about death can be difficult and upsetting, especially if you are in grief.
You may want to put it off until the right time, but the best time is to tell them as soon as possible.
If you leave it, they may overhear it or learn about the death in an inappropriate manner.
Children are very sensitive to changes in the environment and would quickly realise that something was wrong.
It’s best to inform them early on so they don’t become concerned about the energy around them.

Who should tell a child of the death?

Someone close to the child, such as a family member, should inform them of the death.
It can be challenging, and you should have someone nearby to help you through it.
Find a place where you will not be disturbed, preferably somewhere where the child feels comfortable and is not distracted.
When telling the child, try to sit as close to them as possible.

What is the best way to explain death to a child?

When discussing death with a child, it is essential to use simple language.
Terms like ‘lost’ or ‘died’ may appear gentler, but they may confuse the child.
It is best to be truthful and inform them that their loved one has died.
Ask the child if they understand what that means so that you can build on their knowledge and understanding of death.

  • Tell the truth – If they ask, “What happened to Grandma?” tell them she died.
    If you first speak to them in religious terms, such as “She has gone to Heaven,” they may very well want to go and visit her and be puzzled as to why they can’t right now.
    According to your personal beliefs if you tell them something like “Jesus took her to be with Him,” or something similar, they may resent Him for taking her away.
    Please keep in mind that they will remember what you say as fact, but they may not share their understanding with you.


  • Communicate clearly – If they ask what death is, tell them in simple terms about how serious the accident or illness was and how Grandma’s body couldn’t keep working.
    Make it clear to them that simply becoming ill does not imply that you will die.
    It is vital that they understand that this only occurs when someone is critically ill.
    If you do not make this point clear, they may be concerned that even a common cold could result in death.


  • The person is no longer in pain – Inform them that when a person dies, they are no longer in pain.
    If the deceased was in pain, this may have helped them understand the differences between life and death.

Don’t hide your emotions – Parents frequently believe that they must be strong for their children.
This has the potential to send the wrong message.
Children learn how to react to situations by watching adults.
If you do not share your emotions with them or tell them that they should not be sad or cry, they may believe that being sad about death is wrong.
Grief is a natural reaction to any type of change.
It is critical for children to see how death affects you.
If you try to protect them by hiding your emotions or leaving the room whenever you start crying, they will follow your lead.