Articles | Parenting | Raising Covenant Children

How to Talk to Children about Death

May 10, 2018

For the past weeks, our family has mourned the lost our dear grandmother. She was the first Christian in my husband’s family, whose spiritual legacy has resulted to two churches planted, one of which is our own fledgling church community. Our Little Miss also mourned her passing. She did not take it well when I finally told her that her great grandmother went home to be with God in heaven. There were several nights when we was utterly distraught at the thought of not seeing her great grandmother again. The only way she was able to finally sleep at night was to take comfort in God’s promises. I taught her a song based on 1 Peter 5:7 that I also learned when I was a little girl.

I cast all my cares upon You

I lay all of my burdens down at Your feet

And any time I don’t know what to do

I will cast all my cares upon You

One of our biggest parental roles is to impart God’s Word to our children. Even though it can be a tough topic, we should not shy away in talking about death because Scripture clearly addresses it. Opportunities to talk about death would open up when a pet dies or when a family member needs to attend a funeral.

What does the Bible say about Death?

Death Happens

Death makes us upset. Sometimes it makes us sad because we might not see the person we love. Sometimes it makes us angry because we don’t understand why they had to leave. But the Bible tells us that death is real, and it happens to everyone. One day, we will also die.

Hebrews 9:27; 2 Corinthians 5:10

Death is NOT NORMAL

But death is not normal. God meant for us to live forever. But sin spoiled everything. Death is a result of sin. Because of sin, we will all die.

1 Corinthians 15:56-58

JESUS DESTROYED DEATH

But God sent His Son Jesus to destroy death. He died on the cross, was buried, and on third day, he rose again. Jesus defeated death, and death will die one day. When we trust that Jesus lived, died and became alive again so that our sins can be forgiven, God promises a life in heaven with him forever.

1 Corinthians 15:26; John 3:16; John 11:23-26

DEATH IS TO BE WITH GOD FOREVER

We will still die. And dying could mean that we may no longer be with our earthly families. But if we believe in Jesus, dying means we will be with God forever. We will be happy with God always. We will praise and worship God always. Most of all, we will spend forever with God, and enjoy Him forever.

John 14:1-4; 1 Thessalonians 4:16-18; Philippians 3:20-21

Prepare Them Beforehand

A good time to talk about death would be before death ever happens. It is usually more manageable when the child is not upset or distressed. In a way, we prepare them before a distressing event like death occurs. Catechism is a great tool that could do just that. Here are the last 10 questions and answers of the Children’s Catechism that can help address some concerns relating to death. It also provides some simple answers regarding those who do not believe in Jesus.

  1. Did Christ remain in the grave after his crucifixion?
    No. He rose bodily from the grave on the third day after his death.
  2. Where is Christ now?
    In heaven, ruling his kingdom and interceding for us.
  3. Will the Lord Jesus come again?
    Yes! He will return to judge the world on the last day.
  4. What happens to believers when they die?
    Our bodies will return to the dust and our souls will go to be with the Lord forever.
  5. What happens to unbelievers when they die?
    Their bodies will return to dust also, but their souls will go to hell.
  6. What is hell?
    Hell is an awful place, where unbelievers are separated from God to suffer for their sins.
  7. Will the bodies of all the dead be raised again?
    Yes. At the last day some will be raised to everlasting life and others to everlasting death.
  8. What will God do to unbelievers at the last day?
    He will judge them, and condemn them to everlasting punishment in the lake of fire with Satan and his angels.
  9. What will God do for believers at the last day?
    He will give them a home with him in the new heaven and the new earth.
  10. What will the new heaven and the new earth be like?
    A glorious and happy place, where the saved will be with Jesus forever.

Not knowing what is going to happen after death is certainly upsetting for anyone, let alone a child. Try not to downplay their emotions when this happens. Instead, recognize that have worries, fear or dread of death, and point them to our everlasting hope in Jesus. But most of all, pray for them and with them. That God would supply His grace upon their hearts, and give them understanding. After all, “Prayer is praising God, giving thanks for all his blessings, and asking him for the things he has promised in the Bible.” (Children’s Catechism A109)

 

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