Words: Kirsty Ketley
Talking to children about death is never a nice topic, but when someone like the Queen dies, there is no avoiding it and they will likely have questions. So here, we share how to talk to your children about the Queen’s death.
Children under six-years-old
Children this young are unlikely to be too affected, however it might lead to questions about death and these shouldn’t be shrugged off.
It is best to be honest, but in a way that is age-appropriate, and avoid using words such as ‘loss’, ‘gone to a better place’, or ‘no longer with us’, as children will often take things up in a literal sense, and might start wondering why no one is searching for The Queen, if she is lost. Using directs words when talking about death, is painful, but less confusing. You can explain to your child in an age-appropriate way that the body has stopped working, and reassure them that the Queen feels no pain or sadness in her body.
Books such as The Memory Box; A book about grief, by Joanna Rowland, are always a good way for children to make sense of death too.
Children over six-years-old
Newsround is a brilliant programme for children to watch, and they really have a great way of explaining the big news topics in a way that children easily understand, so it is worth sitting with them and watching it. If your child has questions, be sure to answer them honestly, and if you don’t have the answers, use Google and research together. Questions about the new King, his Coronation and what that means, will likely be popular questions asked.
Books, like Michael Rosen’s Sad Book, are great for helping them understand about loss and grief, but keep checking in with your child to make sure that they are okay with the news and not worried about grandparents or other older family members going away, and that they know you are there if they need you.
Your teen might not be too interested in what has happened, and that is fine, but make sure that they understand the magnitude of this and why it is such a momentous occasion, as they may not realise. Check that any information they are reading is from reputable sources and keep the lines of communication open, so that they know they can come to you if they need to.
Whatever your child’s age, it is important that you validate their feelings, whether they are sad or not. It is also okay for you to show your emotions, so if your child sees you upset, that’s totally fine. It helps them to understand that it’s okay to feel sad and it can help them understand the magnitude of what is happening. How you model processing grief will have an influence on how they see death and dying and how they grieve in the future.
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