I cannot imagine having to explain to a child that someone they love is going to die. The questions must seem unending – where are they going? Can I still talk to them? What does ‘dead’ mean? And then there’s the most difficult question of all: why?
Younger children may have problems understanding the finality of death. Older children may find it difficult to express what they’re feeling, or have trouble dealing with the unfairness of the thing. At a time when the adults in their lives may also be struggling with emotional issues and/or be busy with end-of-life paperwork and arrangements, books can lend a hand with answering some of those questions as well as offering comfort.
Parents, carers and educators all have to make a decision as to how they’re going to deal with these questions. There are philosophical and religious considerations which adults may or may not want to introduce to youngsters, each with a set of implications that can confuse as much as comfort.