Most people have vivid memories of their first encounter with death. While it’s not easy at any age, death can be particularly traumatic for children.
Many children sadly have to deal with the illness and death of family members, friends, or pets. Children may be caught off-guard by a sudden death, and may struggle for years because of a lack of understanding of the concept of death in addition to trying to cope with new feelings of grief and loss.
Research and experience tell us that it’s best to introduce the subject of death early on and provide clear, honest answers suitable for their age and maturity. There are no hard and fast rules to help children cope with death, and explaining death or a tragedy to a child is one of the hardest things for adults to do.
One way of introducing the notion of death to children and helping them learn about coping with grief is through books. Diverse stories of how characters and families cope with death can give children the affirmation they need that no two people grieve the same way, and it’s okay to feel sad, be angry, and talk about the person or pet they’ve lost.
It’s always a good idea to read through these books yourself before introducing them to a child, but we feel these books are sensitive and well-written and will help children understand death and loss in a way that will help them develop subtle coping skills to process things in their own way.