- May have frightening dreams, repaeat questions about death, may revert to earlier behaviors.
- Children may play out the events surronding death. Children of this age will take words literally. Since children have limited experiences, they may make sense of the world by connecting events that don't relate. For example: Aunt Betty had a headache and she died. Daddy has a headache. maybe he will die too.
How to help:
- Look into the child's eyes and touch the child gently when discussing death.
- Shorten time away from the child. Be sure he or she knows where you are and how to reach you.
- Avoid words such as sleeping, resting, loss, passed away, taking a long trip when describing death.
- Talk about what it means to be dead in concrete terms such as someone doesn't breathe, eat, go to the bathroom or grow.
- Repeat simple, honest explanations as often as the child asks.
- Reassure the child of his own safety and your plan for continued presence. Share that most people die when they are older.
- Allow expressions of feelings such as drawing pictures, reading and telling stories about death or the loved one, or reenacting the funeral service.