Tasmania is mourning the loss of 5 innocent lives. Because of this, we share tips on how to talk to your children about death. Especially in the wake of extensive and unavoidable media coverage.
At a Devonport school in Tasmania yesterday, a freak gust of wind swept a Jumping castle 10 feet in the air. 5 children are now dead, while 3 are still in a critical condition. It was end of year celebrations that went terribly wrong. Police are still investigating.
Every TV network and radio station is talking about. It is important to address our own children’s fears and concerns as they start to hear the details about what unfolded yesterday. Below we share how to talk to your children about death and the unfolding tragedy.
How to talk to your children about death and the unfolding tragedy.
Don’t avoid their questions.
It may seem easy to just avoid talking about such things. You may think you are protecting them or even sheltering them from such sad news. It is far better to be honest and address all questions and concerns. Chances are if they do not hear it from you, they will hear it from someone else. It is better that you be there to support them.
Be brief and give simple answers.
Young children especially do not need to know all the details, just enough to answer their concerns. Explain it was an accident and that it is very sad. Giving too much information at once may confuse and overwhelm your child.
Do not lie. Being open and honest is important. Avoid using euphemism, this may confuse your child e.g. “They are sleeping” or “They are resting in peace” Autistic children, especially can be quite literal and this may present problems trying to explain death in the future.
It is important that you do not hide your own emotions and feelings. It is not wrong to be sad and it is a great opportunity to share this with your child. Explain to them that you can imagine how the other families are feeling. Explain that is ok to be sad and even afraid. It is vital to let them know they are safe with you.
Be prepared for the conversation to come up often. Your child may have a chance to reflect on what you have discussed with them and have follow up questions. This is quite normal. Perhaps think about questions your child might ask and think about how you might answer them. All kids have a thirst for knowledge and this might be the first time they have heard about death.
Ultimately there is no wrong or right way to handle such tragic news but it is important that our children feel safe and that they have their concerns addressed in an honest open way. Make them feel safe and reassure them that this will not happen to them.
For anyone needing support:
Lifeline 13 11 14