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  • Children should be told the truth using as much detail as he or she can understand. (age appropriate)

  • Explanations should be simple, direct, and age appropriate.

  • Use of the proper words, such as death, died, or cancer is preferable to substitutes such as “passed away” or “sleeping”.

  • Encourage children to ask questions.

  • It’s ok for adults not to have all the answers and to give an honest “I just don’t know the answer to that one.”

  • Reassurance may be needed about their own security as children often worry about themselves and others.

  • Clarify that they are not responsible in any way - through feelings, actions or thoughts - for the death of their loved one.

  • Listen to and accept their feelings.

Copyright 2012 The Austin Center for Grief & Loss
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