I am often asked how to help children manage the reality of death. Many are greatly concerned when it comes to introducing their children to death and grief. I do not have much experience helping children deal with their grief but I have been asked this enough that I have a point of view for you to consider. Having someone that you are connected to die is a very difficult time for anyone. More than that, it is a time that we are likely to remember for the rest of our lives. The things that we see, feel and hear during important life moments not only stay with us for years or forever but they form and shape our view of life and our response and approach to others. What we are told as children around the really important things in life (and death) make us who we are. If a child is taught to be aggressive or lives with violence as acceptable, then we ought not to be surprised if those characteristics are present or even dominant later when they become adults. If a child is taught that they are entitled or special, be prepared to encounter an unpleasant adult later on. If a child is taught to fear death, or worse to hide from it, then that point of view will play a role in their formation and an inability to cope with daily life will show itself in the future. Likewise if a child is lied to, or the significance of death is downplayed they will not come to appreciate, expect and manage the difficult times that life brings with it. In many places in the world today, and even here not so many years ago, life and death were a part of the routine of everyday life. Babies were born at home and death took place in the bedroom. Children were able to appreciate the coming and going of life. Today, at least in the western world, it is often the case that the birth of a child or the death of a family member is something that happens away from view and is managed by highly trained strangers in strange, sterile places. We must think carefully before we turn our heads from the realities that must be considered and prepared for. The birth of a child and its significance is an enormous event. One that may not get it’s full due and certainly the death of a loved one also has far reaching consequences and implications. Many people today want to protect their children from the realities of life. Sometimes that’s a positive step but where life and death are concerned it protects a child from realities we all need to know. I am not suggesting that we treat children brutally when it comes to death and grief but offering false pictures or sheltering them from what needs to be introduced begins a dangerous precedent. Children are exposed to so much today that they have no idea how to manage or assimilate. The television, and the Internet batter children everyday but many of us take great care to protect them from death. Allow them to see the sadness that death brings. Allow them to understand that something important has happened. Allow them to see that death and grief are real. Then help them to understand their feelings by allowing them to express their confusion, anger, sadness and disbelief. Allow them to grieve. This way they have been introduced to what life has to offer by an adult who can be their guide. Offering your children an introduction to death and grief will help them be adjusted. Allow them permission to feel and express the things that society tells us are to be kept quiet and hidden. The things that you teach your child when they are young will provide a base for them to manage and handle life in their future.