Helping children face the facts about death

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How can adults help children face the facts of death, dying and illness?

That was the theme covered by a number of speakers at The University of Sheffield to mark Dying Matters Awareness Week, which runs until Sunday.

A workshop was hosted by the university’s Centre for the Study of Childhood and Youth, where experts spoke about how to help youngsters come to terms with death at times when the topic is unavoidable.

Prof Myra Blubond-Langnor, one of the speakers, said: “There are times in the lives of many children when the subject of death cannot be ignored – when a pet dies, when a relative is dying, when a child is terminally ill.

“Yet these are often the times when adults make the greatest efforts to shield the child from the facts of death, dying and illness.”

The other speakers were Dr Rachel Fearnley and Rev Brian Cranwell. All sparked a lively discussion on the factors that need to be taken into account in assessing children’s understanding of death, and on ways that adults can talk to children about their children’s own dying and the death of others.

n For more information about the Centre for the Study of Childhood and Youth, visit