How Do I Explain Cremation to My Children?

Rick Fraser
Submitted by UrnAdmin on Tue, 11/15/2016 - 16:09

Death is a difficult process for children to understand and to accept. What happens to the human body after death can be confusing or frightening to them. If you take their stage of development as a guide, you can be both honest about the process and considerate of their feelings.

Encourage Questions

Children may be less likely to ask questions about the death or plans for a memorial after a loved one passes because they can sense that it is a stressful topic. As much as you can, show them that you will answer their questions simply and accurately. This will help them cultivate an additional sense of trust with you during this unfortunate time.

Explain Cremation Simply

Children, especially very young children, are often looking for a much simpler answer than what you may think. Carefully listen to the question and think about the answer before you give it. It helps to have a statement in mind that is appropriate, accurate and non-threatening. For example, you may choose to say that your loved one’s body was placed in a room that became very warm. After a short time, the body turns to ashes. The ashes may be placed in an urn to be kept, scattered or buried.

Consider Developmental Stages

Older children often have more questions beyond this explanation, and you can extend the discussion for them, as you feel comfortable. You may opt to share your loved one’s reasons for choosing cremation in your conversation, if you know this information. Tell your children that their feelings are normal, and that it is OK to feel curious, frightened or uncertain. Reassure them that the death of a beloved friend or relative can be very sad, and that you are there for them whenever they need comfort or to talk. Involve them in the memorial if possible, so they are given a chance to say goodbye.

Confronting death and grief can be a stressful time for children who do not understand much of what is going on. With a calm, thoughtful attitude toward answering their questions about cremation, you can help your children feel less confused or worried about what happens when a person dies.

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