Search Blog  

Newsletter Subscription
* indicates required field

Blog Archive

Let Your Children Send Off their Loved Ones with a Sweet Gesture


Bereavement Relief

Posted On: Apr 03, 2017

Let Your Children Send Off their Loved Ones with a Sweet Gesture

Death is a difficult concept for children to understand. Up to a certain age, the idea of forever is abstract and time itself is elastic and malleable. Kids don't always grasp the permanency of death. To say that a loved one is asleep, on a trip, or even visiting the angels is a lovely, gentle way to introduce younger children to the idea of death and dying, but those descriptions don't paint clear pictures of what's actually happening. To help your child comprehend what it means when someone passes away, introduce a gesture or activity to help explain what death means and to say a personal goodbye to the friend or family member.

Send a Message in a Bottle

Ask your little one to write down a message to her or his loved one. Your child can address the letter to the deceased personally, or you can write for her or him if need be. The nature of the letter is to say goodbye, but you can also use it to help your kid understand that grandma, Aunt Mary, or Billy from down the street is dead and won't be around any longer. It's that permanency that typically eludes younger kids, and that's also why you have to be so careful about the language you use when explaining death. At any rate, in framing the letter with your child, you can explain to her or him that s/he won't see the departed again, but that they live on in memory.

Afterward, pop the letter in a bottle and then do whatever you like—although throwing it in a body of water is best, of course, symbolically speaking. However, even if you use another receptacle and your child chooses to place it in a meaningful spot, the sentiment remains the same.

Release a Balloon into the Sky

A letter is emotional and sometimes complex. In contrast, a balloon is simple—or so it seems. You may want to invite your kid to release a balloon, thereby “sending” it to the deceased, and you can explain that just as the balloon is gone, so is the departed. The balloon is going where her or his loved one went, a place s/he simply can't go. Depending on your religion, you might even say that the balloon is floating toward your child's loved one in heaven.

Plant Something in Memory

It's beneficial to have a place to visit, something in the real world, as well. Planting something, whether it's a single tree, a decorative bush, the deceased's favorite flower, or a memorial garden, gives your child something to nurture. You can explain that just as the plants live, so too will her or his loved one live on in her or his heart and memory.

It's useful to take advantage of any tools at your disposal to help children understand, and consequently cope with, death. Do you know of any other thoughtful or meaningful gestures?