Helping Kids Cope With Death

Whether a grandparent or friend, at some point children are going to experience losing a loved one. Here are five ways to talk to your child about loss.

When funeral director David Techner talks to children about death, they always ask, “Will I die too?” And when Techner answers with a matter-of-fact “Yes, of course you will die. Every living thing dies,” an audible gasp from adults invariably sucks the air out of the room.

It can be difficult to talk to kids about death, says Techner, owner of the Ira Kaufman Chapel funeral home in Southfield and a leading expert on the issue. A parent’s first instinct is to protect her child from the pain and fear associated with loss, but Techner has made a career out of helping families handle this sensitive subject. Here, the author of A Candle for Grandpa and co-creator of the documentary Generation to Generation shares five things parents should consider.

1. Breaking the news

Techner is passionate about helping parents cope with death due to a personal experience. When he was 9, he came home from school one day to a lawn full of cars and a house overflowing with relatives. His beloved grandfather had died after a prolonged illness, and it was the first Techner had heard of it.

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