"Adults don’t always feel comfortable using the words death, dead and died..."

Many adults use euphemisms such as ‘lost’, ‘gone’ or ‘passed away’ when talking about death, but these can cause confusion, leading a child to look for someone or expect them to come back. The language of death used by adults can create an additional barrier to understanding for a young person, at a time when they need clarity.

It is important to use communication methods which meet the pupil’s needs and which they are familiar with, considering what they may already know or understand. Words, symbols, or signs for ‘dead’ and ‘died’ are essential.

It may be necessary to give the same information many times, or to answer questions repeatedly to help a child make sense of what has happened. This can be difficult for adults who may be grieving, and it can help to refer a child or young person to another trusted adult using visual, verbal or other non-verbal prompts.

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