Talking With Kids About Death

When I was in grad school pursuing my MSW, I elected to take a course on death, loss, and grief. On the first day of class my professor shared examples of a few different societal approaches to death and dying:

Death accepting societies–where people percieve death as inevitable and natural.

Death defying societies–where people refuse to believe that death will take anything away from them, be it material or otherwise.

Death denying societies–where people refuse to accept or confront death as natural.

I can still remember my professor’s assertion on the first day that we live in a death-denying society and her push for us to intentionally look for the myriad of ways death denial shows up so that we could think critically about how it impacts the lives of people in the communities we were preparing to serve.

She highlighted examples of dominant cultural attitudes about death; highlighting the existence of anti-aging language and products that can communicate the message that we should hide signs of aging and death, Americans’ overall lack of education about death, and more specifically, that Nurses and Social Workers receive more education on end of life care than physicians.

Even though many years have passed since then, I still hold a desire to not only think more critically about my own socialization when it comes to messages about death, dying and grief, but to also learn better ways to support others through their own processes coming to terms with death, dying, and grief.

I recently heard a podcast from NPR called “Death: Talking With Kids About The End“, which really focused on tips for talking about death with children. I’m sharing the recording below. Here’s the transcript as another access point. Check it out and consider how it might align, or diverge from your understanding of your own religious or secular traditions and thought processes.

From NPR– Death: Talking With Kids About The End

For more reading on the topic of confronting death denial, check out the following posts from Martha Crawford’s blogs, What a Shrink Thinks, and SubText:

Death Ed.

Dream Time

And Another Thing

I’m actively gathering resources on this topic that uplift a variety of perspectives and lived experiences. If you have anything you’d like to share feel free to do so in the comments or by sending me an email.


From Aspiring Humanitarian, Relando Thompkins-Jones

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I'm a Social Justice Educator and Aspiring Humanitarian who is interested in conflict resolution, improving intergroup relations, and building more equitable and inclusive communities. "Notes from an Aspiring Humanitarian" is my blog, where I write about issues of diversity, inclusion, equity, and social justice. By exploring social identities through written word, film & video, and other forms of media, I hope to continue to expand and enrich conversations about social issues that face our society, and to find ways to take social action while encouraging others to do so as well in their own ways.

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