When someone dies of COVID-19 a child or teen may experience thoughts and feelings unlike those experienced when deaths are due to other causes. As with deaths due to other causes, it is important to be truthful about the cause and to provide age appropriate explanations to questions that children may have. Since this disease is new to human beings, feeling prepared requires knowledge. Like other parenting responsibilities, preparation can alleviate confusion that caregivers might experience if caught off-guard. The following are questions that children as young as 3 or 4 might ask:
What is COVID-19?
Children will naturally want to know why their person got the disease
Children will want to know if you are going to get COVID-19 and die too?
Unlike deaths due to other causes, when someone dies due to COVID-19 families might not have had an opportunity to say good-bye prior to the death or participate in a mourning ritual. Participation in mourning rituals help even very young children begin their mourning processes by offering them opportunities to witness what happens to bodies after the death. They also benefit from the support available from friends and family at those gatherings.
Some things you can do with children and teens until a memorial service or celebration of life can take place:
Understand that there’s no right or wrong way to grieve and that grief is a unique process for each person. Each adult and child will grieve in their own way rather than according to any stage model. Role model for children that it is okay to talk about the person who died and encourage them to come ask for support when they are feeling sad, mad, scared, lonely, anxious, guilty or worried because their person died.
Visit www.OurHouse-Grief.org or call 888-417-1444 for resources and support.