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100 Tips for Nannies and Families

The advice in this book comes from Candi Wingate, President of Nannies4hire.com.
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How to Tell Your Kids There Has Been a Death in the Family

Sit down with your kids and tell them as a family about the death.  Speak openly with your kids about the death, how it will affect them, and the spiritual elements of mortality.  For example, you may say, “Uncle Joe died peacefully in his sleep today while you were at school.  I know you will miss him a great deal.  You and he really got to be close in the last few months.  The pain of grief is not something I can fix for you, but please know that I’m always here for you if you need to talk.  I love you so much, and I hope that we can be there for each other as we say goodbye to Uncle Joe.  The out-of-town family members will be arriving soon, some as early as tomorrow.  They have reserved a block of rooms at the motel that has the indoor water park.  The funeral will be in three days, and it will be just as he planned it.  Remember how he said he wanted his funeral to be?  I think the family will be in town about a week, so your whole world will revolve around family stuff for that week, and then your life will get back to normal.  I’ve already spoken with your school: they’re sending your schoolwork home for you so that you can do the work from home for the week that you’ll be out of school.  That way, you won’t be behind when you return to school.  Oh, and remember all the activities that you loved before you spent so much time helping Uncle Joe prepare for death?  Well, maybe returning to doing those things can give you something to look forward to, something positive to soften your grief.  And, while we’re on this subject, I want to tell you how proud I am to be your parent: your loving devotion to Uncle Joe, giving up your activities without complaint so that you could attend to him, just made my heart burst with pride for the person that you are.  As I think about (reference your faith’s validation for caring for others), you are a shining example.  I’m certain that (reference your faith’s position on life after death, spiritual rewards for a life well lived, etc.).  Death is hard to understand, both physically and spiritually, but if you have questions, please know you can always ask me.  If I don’t know the answer, we will find the answer together.”  If you observe any of your kids saying or doing anything that suggests that they may be troubled by any aspect of the death, visit with them privately.  Ask them how they are feeling about the death.  Let your kids know that it’s ok to speak with you openly and honestly, and be understanding and pragmatic in your responses.  For example, if one of your kids tells you that s/he is upset with Uncle Joe because he left, you may say, “I understand that you are missing Uncle Joe, but you know he didn’t abandon you, right?  He died.  It’s not his fault.  He’d be here right now, healthy and loving spending time with you, if he could. ”

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