Parenting after the death of a child

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Direct and honest communication with surviving children who are experiencing the loss of a sibling helps the survivors cope with their loss, according to research by University of Arkansas communication professor, Lynne M. Webb. Webb has directed research concerning the after-effects of a child’s death, specifically how parents interact with surviving children.


“Children respond best to direct, honest communication, even in hardships,” Webb said. “A parent’s first reaction may be to dance around the issue and conceal the truth to protect their surviving children, but children want an explanation.”


That explanation can take many forms and parents can adapt their language to the child’s age level. Children desire an explanation of what happened to their brother or sister, Webb explained. They turn to their parents as the most credible source for that explanation.


“It’s important that the parents, despite their grief, have direct, open communication with their surviving children so that they are not raising trust or emotional issues,” she said. “Parents can assist surviving children to express their grief in a healthy way by communicating directly and openly about the death.”

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