5 Insights for Dealing with Discussions on Death

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Death. Every year roughly 2.3 million people die in
the United States; 16,000 are children. When children are touched
by the loss of significant loved ones in their lives-parents,
grandparents, teachers, even friends-it can be hard for us as
leaders to help them through the grieving process.

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During my time as a children’s director, the topic of death
would come up now and then. It always ended up being a time for
grieving, growing, and sometimes even celebrating. We were able to
grow closer together as a church family during these sad times, and
I hope you can find those silver linings as well.

While there are no easy fixes when it comes to talking to kids
about death, there are a few things to keep in mind. Here are five
helpful insights to dealing with death.


  1. Parental Supervision: A simple step, but
    one not to miss. Make sure to talk with the parents before starting
    a discussion about a recent death of a loved one. Parents can
    provide helpful information about how the child is coping and
    whether or not he or she really understands the situation. When you
    talk to the parents, make sure to tend to their needs as well,
    perhaps offering counseling if that is a service your church
  2. Use Simple Terms: Younger kids may
    struggle with the finality of death. Use simple terms when talking
    about death. Experts at kidshealth.org suggest avoiding “telling
    kids that the loved one ‘went away’ or ‘went to sleep’ or even that
    your family ‘lost’ the person. Because young kids think so
    literally, such phrases might inadvertently make them afraid to go
    to sleep or fearful whenever someone goes away.”
  3. Emotions are OK: Older kids who can
    understand the situation better may be struggling with a variety of
    different emotions. Remember that different people grieve in
    different ways. Let them know that it’s OK to be sad. Remind the
    child of John 11:35, where Jesus wept at the death of Lazarus.
    Death is a sad side-effect of sin, and even Jesus cried about
  4. Personal Experience: If this is the first
    time a child is dealing with death, it may be helpful if you tell
    how you handled a similar situation. Being a role model by being
    open and honest about your feelings during the experience can help
    kids better understand that grieving is a normal process.
  5. Look in the Book: The best thing you can
    do is to remind you kids of God’s great love. Here are some great
    Bible verses to help you communicate that:

    Kids love our Sunday School resources!
    • 2 Corinthians 1:3-4 and Matthew 5:4…God comforts us
    • Psalm 23:4…God is with us
    • John 3:16 and 1 Corinthians 15:55…Death isn’t the end
    • Isaiah 25:8…It will get better


Benjamin Franklin once said that nothing is certain but death
and taxes. At some point, a discussion of death will come up. Be
prepared to help your kids, as well as their parents.  And let
us know what you do to help kids understand death. Leave your
comments in the box below.


About Author

David Jennings

David has served kids around the world for the majority of his life. From Texas to Romania, he has followed where God has led him. Most recently, he served for six years as a children's director in the great state of Alabama before moving to Colorado to work for Group as an associate editor.


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