Death and Dying

From unsplash.com, Jordan Whitt.

How do you talk about something so challenging with little kids? Because the focus of this website is creating resources for Children and youth, one might imagine that death doesn’t come up very often. The truth is, everyone dies and even though children are (hopefully and thankfully) further from the final curtain, we are all touched by death and dying regularly.

Check out Shanna’s blog post to delve deeper into the topic of talking about death with little kids.

Book Suggestions

City Dog, Country Frog: Willems, Mo, Muth, Jon J.: 9781423103004: Books -  Amazon.ca

City Dog, Country frog is an excellent story about friendship, season changing and life cycles.

When Dinosaurs Die-Laurie Krasny Brown-Paperback / softback Picture book-Crying Out Loud

When Dinosaurs Die explains death, dying, and coping with grief and loss in simple and accessible language for young kids and families.

Water Bugs and Dragonflies Explaining Death to Children: Stickney, Doris:  8601404219283: Books - Amazon.ca

Water Bugs and Dragonflies: Explaining Death to Children uses a beautiful nature based tale, normalizing death.

The Invisible String is an old favourite. It talks about how love connects us no matter what separation or loss keeps us apart from our loved ones.

Activities for Families to Grieve Together

From i.pinimg.com.

Create a memorial box or display case together. Take the time to pick out a special box (a heavy paper or wooden one, you may even want to decorate). Ask the child or youth about any favourite photos or memorabilia that would help them remember the deceased. Maybe you’ve kept some old letters or cards from that person. Some people include an article of clothing from that person, a stuffed animal, jewellery, baseball card…. Whenever the child or youth (or adult!) misses their lost loved one they can open their box and take some time remembering them.

From thenextstitch.blogspot.co.uk.

Sewing a quilt out of the deceased’s old shirts/clothes can provide a much needed embrace when children/youth miss their lost loved ones.

From etsy.com.

Similarly, some folks make a pillow or stuffed animal out of old clothes.

This project can be a great way to connect younger and older generations by passing on basic sewing skills.

Photo by Rodolfo Clix on Pexels.com

Create a small photo-book to remember the deceased by with special photos of them.

This can also work well for children who are born after the passing of a family member. Selina’s mother died when she was a teenager so she has some photos of “Grammy Susan” in her home, in a photo-book to engage her toddler in stories about the grandmother she never got to meet.

Photo by August de Richelieu on Pexels.com

Host a story-telling hour! Invite folks to bring their favourite funny or silly story to share about the deceased.

Laughter is the best medicine when we grieve. And, remembering together is a wonderful way to draw closer as a family/community, to hear stories you’ve never heard before, and to begin to process your experience.

Make a special memorial ornament for your Christmas tree so your loved one can be a part of your Christmases to come.

Some faith communities host Blue Christmas services, or Service of the Longest Night and include a memorial tree you can decorate with this kind of ornament.

From Pinterest user Eva

Pets can be really important members of the family. This is an easy way to memorialize a dog or cat who die with a memorial flower pot. Glue their collar or favourite toy to plant pot or their water dish and plant a flower or small garden inside.

Involving Children & Youth in Funeral Services

Many families opt for a memory table where a photo of the deceased is placed with some objects that represented their personality. Ask children and youth for ideas of items to contribute. Do they have something special their loved one made for them? Something to help them remember a special memory of them?

When putting together a slideshow of the deceased’s life, invite children and youth to add artwork they’ve made that represents their loved one.

Photos only capture part of our memories, artwork can convey emotions a photo can’t.

Ask children and youth if they have any school or personal projects they’d like to add to the service.

Selina led a service where one grandchild shared a school report she had written about her grandfather a year earlier and it was incredibly moving.

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