When I was a youth I had a gerbil. I remember I would give it empty toilet paper rolls in which the little animal would chew to very small pieces and make a bed in which it would then bury itself under to sleep. In the process of time the animal died and I buried it in the backyard. With younger children who perhaps do not understand death as well as I did at that age how do we tell them about death? Of course it depends upon the child’s age and development what they would understand. Yet, it is important to discuss the subject with them and not shelter them away from the discussion no more than preventing them from experiencing a funeral. The first and perhaps the most important is to be honest. Do not shy away from presenting death as real as it actually is. A good example is like the gerbil story I told at the beginning of this article. Present the facts on a level they can understand. A story can often accomplish that goal. They also can learn from seeing you behave during a memorial service and all the preparation that goes in to the service. Even as far back as learning that the loved one was sick and the many trips to see and tend to their needs. Take the child to see them and show that this process is very natural. With the process of cremation if they ask or show curiosity, then explain why it is being done and in brief simple terms how.
Children are highly esteemed in the Holy Scriptures. Psalm 127:1 gives this general principle wherein they are identified as a blessing and as defenders (arrows). It is no wonder then that a parent or guardian is supposed to raise a child in the nurture (instruction) and admonition (mild warning or rebuke) of the Lord (Ephesians 6:4). Our society needs nurturing on the subject of grief, death and mutual concern for one another. ~David.