Answers to a child’s questions about death


Summer is here! Kids out of school, busy days, time is flying by! I have been asked many times by parents how to answer their children’s questions about the death of their loved one. These answers are meant to help young children cope in healthy, intelligent ways with the shock of a loved one’s death. Here are some of the most common concerns and questions.

• What happens when someone dies? Death is the name given to a confusing part of life. We know plants die in winter, our pets die too. We can understand this is the way nature works, but its much harder to understand WHY people die. It makes us feel really sad, fearful or even angry. Learning about this part of life can help us feel much better. Dying is a natural part of life—nature gives most people long, healthy lives. Like all other living things, people grow old and reach the end of life.

• Why did someone I love die? Where did they “go”? Sometimes death doesn’t seem fair. Almost everyone, no matter where they live, is loved and missed by others when they die. Right now someone like you is asking that same question. Most people believe that when someone dies, part of that person, their spirit, lives on and goes to Heaven. This spirit is not like our brain or heart, or anything a doctor and fix. It is the part in all of us that feels love and happiness. We can’t see someone’s spirit, but we have faith in them, believing their memories live on inside us.

• Is death like sleeping? Dying is nothing like sleeping. We all sleep to gain rest and energy for our bodies. Think of how good you feel after sleeping. When someone dies, their human body stops working. It is not resting—it’s job is over.

• How can I stop feeling sad? It is natural and normal to feel sad, lonely, confused—most everyone feels just like you when someone they love dies. Sadness often feels like pain when you fall off your bike. At first it hurts a lot, but each day it hurts a little less. It helps to tell others how you feel, and not pretend you are not sad. Ask questions and share your thoughts.

• Why are people buried when they die? After people die, we place their bodies in a cemetery. This is a gentle way to say goodbye. The cemetery gives us a quiet, pretty place to come and think about that person.

• What are funerals for? One of the nicest things about being a human is feeling love for other people. This love does not end when that person dies. Funerals are for sharing loving feelings, stories and memories of your time together. Funerals can help to take away some of the sadness and to help us understand how much others care too.

A great thought to share with children to ease their fear about this topic: As we grow up we learn more about many things in life, not just death. Think of what you’ve learned in school so far! The more we learn about life, the better we are able to understand that part called death. It won’t be so confusing, or hard to think or talk about.
(Excerpts taken from Guideline publications.)

For more information, contact Coyle Funeral and Cremation Services at 419-865-1295 or email