Family therapist Audrey Bridgeforth-Chapman's suggestions for discussing death with children: Don't
Tell a mystical story about the loss of the person; it could cause confusion and anxiety.
Associate death with sleep, which could result in chronic sleep disturbances.
Force children to attend funerals. Do
Tell children what has happened (but not in sordid detail).
Explain the funeral service briefly beforehand.
Answer questions honestly , with responses geared to the child's age.
Remember that expressions of pain, anger, loneliness/aloneness do not constitute symptons of an illness, but are part of a natural process of grieving. Suggested Reading For Children
The Dead Bird , by Margaret Wise Brown (Addison Wesley).
The Tenth Good Thing about Barney , by Judith Viorse (Atheneum).
SCAT , by Arnold Dobrin (Scholastic Books). For Parents
Telling a Child About Death , by E.N. Jackson (Hawthorn Books, 1965).
Helping Your Child to Understand Death , W.M. Wolf (Child Study Association of America, 1958).
Understanding Grief , by Edgar Jackson (Abingdon Press, 1951).
Explaining Death to Children , by Earl Grollman (Boston Press, 1967). Some Support Services
Candle Lighters (self-help support groups for parents of children with cancer): 2025 Eye St. NW, Washington, D.C., 659-5136. (General meeting this Thursday at 7:30 p.m., Room 2253, Rayburn House Office Building.)
Compassionate Friends: Washington, D.C., Rev. Paul Edwards, 946-3479; Baltimore, 301-321-7053.
Howard University Counseling Service: Sixth and Bryant Sts. NW, Audrey Bridgeforth-Chapman, 636-6870.
Saint Francis Counseling Center, 1768 Church St. NW, Washington, D.C., 234-5613.