How do you explain the death of a grandparent to their child?

In search of clarity, children do not experience mourning like adults. Telling them of the death of one of their grandparents requires above all speaking the truth and reassuring them, while letting them grieve in their own way. Explanations and advice from Sophie Millot, psychologist.

  How to explain the death of'un grand-parent à son enfant ?

Death is omnipresent but we never talk about it and even less to children. But when a grief occurs in the immediate family, it is important to take the time to explain to them what it represents.

How do you tell a three year old?

' It is important to use the real words: death, death. It must also be explained that the person was elderly or ill. At this age, children's reasoning is still based on magical thinking: 'what I think happens'. It is therefore necessary to explain so that he does not fear being responsible. 'it's because I didn't go to see grandma that she died' or 'if I do such and such a thing, grandpa won't be dead anymore'. Answer his questions and let him react in his own way ', emphasizes Sophie Millot, psychologist

How do you explain it to an eight-year-old?

' Also using the real words and opening the discussion about death, the meaning of life, the importance of living fully etc. Show him the cycle of the day, of the seasons' in order to understand that it is a natural phenomenon .

Tell him that it's normal to be sad and that this sadness will subside over time even if we don't forget the person we loved.

Should a child begin a grieving process?

' The grieving process also exists in children. In their own way, some play, draw, speak aloud. Others are sad and ask a lot of questions “, explains Sophie Millot. Faced with death, children react differently but all need to express their emotions . But some of them are easily walled in silence as the news is difficult to manage.

How do you comfort a child who has lost their grandfather or grandmother?

' You have to talk to him and listen to him, but don't insist if he wants to talk about something else. Secure him by telling him that you will not leave him'

While marking out his project journey, you can encourage your child to confide in:

  • Using stories, games or books . Telling him a story allows you to naturally interact with him; thus, he will confide more easily based on the story of another child confronted with the same situation.
  • By making him draw pictures, which can also allow younger children to convey their emotions.
  • By multiplying the hugs if he asks, because physical contact allows him to feel the love you have for him.
  • By answering his questions, even if they are numerous and precise, and in a simple way, without making a great speech about life and death.
  • By consulting a psychologist or a psychiatrist who can tell you if your child needs support, if several weeks after the death your child is still overwhelmed by emotion and withdraws into himself.

Can a child see a dead body or is it not recommended?

' There is no rule. The most important thing is to propose and explain that the body is cold and immobile etc. It must be said that some people need to see the body to mourn, but others do not. Some kiss the deceased some don't, some touch the coffin some don't. Ask him what he wants to do “, explains Sophie Millot.