by CanTeen05/11/2018

How making memories can help kids come to terms with death

Preparing children for the death of a parent is a confronting but important experience

In an interview with ABC Radio Sydney, Aaron Cheang talks about his devastation when his wife Tina was diagnosed with secondary breast cancer in 2010, five months after their son, Lucas, was born.

But rather than hide her illness, Tina and Aaron did all they could to create memories together for Lucas in the 14 months she had left.

Speaking to young children with concrete words is very important, according to psychologist Nathan MacArthur.

Mr MacArthur is the bereavement service leader at HammondCare North and counselled Aaron and Lucas after Tina's death.

"If we say someone's passed away that can be confusing, or saying go to sleep; kids can then get scared to go to sleep," he said. "Kids at that age are very concrete thinkers. Being able to talk about when people die as their brains stop working, their lungs stop breathing ... that's how we explain how people die. That can feel enormously confronting for parents."

Mr MacArthur recommended parents use books to help them find the words to explain to their children why their mum or dad is dying.

He also said to enlist the help of family, friends and the school particularly at times when the responsibilities of being a carer, a parent and breadwinner can feel overwhelming.

You can read the full article on ABC Radio Sydney, here.