Could LEGO be a way to explain death to a child?

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Here's what you need to know on how to explain death to a child. These tips will help your child deal with grief and loss.

Death is complicated. It is hard to understand for some adults. So how to explain death to a child can be a tricky subject too.  

I experienced this when my dad passed on last year. There were no guidelines on how to tell my children that their grandfather had died.

They didn’t quite grasp the concept, except that they won’t see him anymore.

“He’s in heaven?” was what my almost three-year-old daughter kept repeating for the weeks after and sometimes even today. I only wish I had LEGO’s new set to help me explain the idea of death to my kids. 

A new way to learn about death

This LEGO set featuring a crematorium furnace and coffin was designed to make the topic of death approachable for children. The bizarre toy collection was launched by Vienna Funeral Museum that showcases 300 funeral items such as death masks, coffins and hearses.

It is located on the grounds of Vienna’s Central Cemetery, one of the largest cemeteries in the world with over 330,000 graves.

how to explain death to a child

The LEGO sets in collaboration with the Vienna State Association for Psychotherapy. | Source: Vienna Funeral Museum

A museum spokesperson, Dr. Florian Keusch said: “From now on, we will be offering new products made of LEGO components in the funeral museum at Vienna’s Central Cemetery. The goal is to make the topic of death approachable for children.”

They established the first product made of LEGO components back in 2016.

The sets were presented with the Vienna State Association for Psychotherapy and ensured that the new products made of LEGO components were useful for therapy with children, and for parents with children, who were suffering from their loss.

how to explain death to a child

Figures that represent a bereaved family, the recently deceased and a skeleton. | Source: Vienna Funeral Museum

How did the public react?

News about these LEGO sets has gained worldwide attention, which Dr. Keusch has described as overwhelmingly positive.

“They were made by an Austrian company. We created the design together with them and they produced the packaging, the manual and organised the bricks and put it together in the box. It is not an official LEGO product, so we call it a crematoria made of LEGO components.’” he said.

how to explain death to a child

One set includes a crematorium furnace and a LEGO figure holding an urn. | Source: Vienna Funeral Museum

These sets are not available to us here but are definitely an eye opening concept to consider. There can be a lot of fear in discussing death with kids, but they can cope if they’re told the truth in an age-appropriate way.

Here are some tips on how to explain death to a child which you may find useful

  1. Use simple and clear words
    Approach your child in a caring way and use words that are simple and direct. For example, “I have some sad news to tell you. Grandma died today.” Pause to give your child a moment to take in your words.
  2. Listen and comfort
    Every child reacts differently to learning that a loved one has died. Some kids cry. Some ask questions. Others seem not to react at all. That’s OK. Stay with your child to offer hugs or reassurance
  3. Put emotions into words
    Encourage kids to say what they’re thinking and feeling in the days, weeks, and months following the loss. Talk about your own feelings: It helps kids be aware of and feel comfortable with theirs. Let your child know that it takes time to feel better after a loved one dies.

    how to explain death to a child

    For a young child, death is something they do not comprehend. It’s hard to explain about the afterlife and what it is. | Source: Pixabay


  4. Talk about funerals and rituals
    Allow children to join in rituals like viewings, funerals, or memorial services. Tell your child ahead of time what will happen. Explain what happens after the service as a way to show that people will feel better.
  5. Help your child remember the person  
    In the days and weeks ahead, encourage your child to draw pictures or write down favorite stories of their loved one. Don’t avoid mentioning the person who died. Recalling and sharing happy memories helps heal grief and activate positive feelings.
  6. Help your child feel better
    Provide the comfort your child needs, but don’t dwell on sad feelings. After a few minutes of talking and listening, shift to an activity or topic that helps your child feel a little better. Play, make art, cook, or go somewhere together.
  7. Give your child time to heal from the loss
    Grief is a process that happens over time. Be sure to have ongoing conversations to see how your child is feeling and doing. Healing doesn’t mean forgetting about the loved one. It means remembering the person with love, and letting loving memories stir good feelings that support us as we go on to enjoy life.

Source: Vienna Funeral Museum 

Read also: 5 ways to help your child deal with the death of a pet 

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Written by

evaloy