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Kids and discussing death of a friend's parent.

My son is in kindergarten and understand the concept of death, but never really had it impact him personally thus far.

His closest friend and classmate just very suddenly lost a parent. I am sure there will be some talk of it whether I address it or not.

Would you just tell your child, get them involved in helping their grieving friend, or not tell them and only answer questions when it came up?

 
hotelmom123

Asked by hotelmom123 at 3:25 PM on Aug. 9, 2013 in General Parenting

Level 20 (8,940 Credits)
This question is closed.
Answers (6)
  • If it were my child I would tell him about the death. I wouldn't want to inadvertently indicate that it's something too horrible or scary to talk about, and since it is his closest friend and he likely WILL find out, it doesn't seem like something to leave open for him to learn about some other way. For sure.
    I think I'd tell him now, and just be responsive to any questions or wonderings. Taking your cues from him seems best, as far as how to proceed with things like yes/no to attending a memorial service or funeral, etc. He may not focus on it much, or he may be very concerned/curious about responding in some way. That will help you know what to do/say, rather than YOU taking the lead as far as introducing options or concepts, and possibly over-burdening him. If you follow his lead & are responsive rather than directive, you'll have more assurance that you're being helpful or supportive.
    girlwithC

    Answer by girlwithC at 7:11 PM on Aug. 9, 2013

  • i feel i gotta warn you, death effects all kids differently. the friend may become very angry and bitter to your son. and if you don't tell him, that will cause a lot of trouble for his friendship. my friend just lost her grandfather, she. has become very distant and always moping around because she misses him so much. her sister on the other hand acts like there is nothing wrong. that she's on cloud 9 all day with no worries.

    one more question, was he close to the person that died? remember, death isn't an easy subject no matter what age you are.
    noel1978

    Answer by noel1978 at 3:53 PM on Aug. 9, 2013

  • I think I would tell him, as briefly as possible, and just stress that his friend will be sad and need a lot of extra patience and kindness. Explain to him that when people are sad, sometimes it comes out as anger, sometimes as crying, sometimes as sitting around not wanting to play, etc.
    Ballad

    Answer by Ballad at 5:17 PM on Aug. 9, 2013

  • Thanks! Great advice. To answer your question my son had little interaction with the parent that passed because both parents were in different homes.
    hotelmom123

    Comment by hotelmom123 (original poster) at 4:02 PM on Aug. 9, 2013

  • that might make it a little easier on your son. i've had to deal with this a few times before with my children.
    noel1978

    Answer by noel1978 at 4:11 PM on Aug. 9, 2013

  • Be aware that feelings often are expressed & processed indirectly, in contexts that offer some safety. So...if he appears unphased by the news but actually feels confused or worried, those feelings may come out as extra sensitivity (melting down about things that normally don't upset him, seeming to have a hard time coping & "getting upset about nothing.") How you respond THEN determines whether his fear gets processed & resolves. Just hang in there around emotion & see those as opportunities for him to grapple with big feelings in a way that feels more manageable.
    It's the same for suddenly becoming fearful about unrelated things (doesn't want to do certain things anymore or insists on certain conditions because of anxiety)...staying connected & warmly holding a reasonable limit around those things, while making room for the big feelings that come up for him then, is the way to keep those displaced anxieties from taking root.
    girlwithC

    Answer by girlwithC at 7:19 PM on Aug. 9, 2013