Your child or teenager can overcome their death anxiety

When one of our dogs died, several years ago, my youngest daughter was present as I placed poor Peaches within her grave and covered her with earth. Amelia was visibly sad as I gently firmed the earth and put the grave marker in place.
We stood by the side of poor Peaches’ grave for a few moments before Amelia looked up at me and asked “when will she  come back again?”
Her inability to fully grasp the finality of death served as a protective mechanism. She’d have been so much sadder if she’d understood that the dog who’d licked her face as a baby would never, ever return.

The knowledge of death can be a hard thing to accept

death anxiety childrenWhen that understanding comes upon us, however, we have no such defences. Perhaps we have a religious belief in which we can find some comfort but even then it isn’t easy to reconcile ourselves to the fact that everybody we love will one day die. We will too.
It can be enough of a struggle for us, as adults, to keep that uneasy peace with the concept of death. Every so often it can break through in a temporary crisis of mortality but generally speaking most of us, most of the time, manage to live in such a way that death takes its seat in the background of our minds.
Children, however, can develop a real fear of death and dying, if exposed to the threat or the reality of losing a loved one, pet or somebody else close to them. They may not be of an age to be fully able to understand what death means but they do understand that it means separation, loss and unavailability. It feels like an ending even if ‘forever’ isn’t yet a concept they can fully grasp.
Troubles with sleep, separation anxiety, bedwetting and a general sense of anxiety can be the symptoms of a childhood fear of death. Teenagers may experience depression, problems with sleep, an ever-preset anxiety and panic attacks. It can also lead to an obsession with being healthy or an OCD based around the fear of contamination and germs.

Child-centred approaches can help resolve this irrational fear of death.

If your child or teenager has developed an irrational fear of death, their own or that of others, then counselling and psychotherapy can help. I have worked with children / adolescents / teenagers in Oxford, Reading and elsewhere in order to help them to place death in its rightful context.
Life is like a holiday. We can go away to some hot place and spend the whole time fretting that we’ll have to return to work or to school. We can do that or we can simply get busy enjoying the limited time we have in that wonderful place. I would work to help your child enjoy their life so fully that death recedes as a concern. I would help your child to work through any unresolved grief or trauma which may have led to that fear arising in the first place.
Using a variety of child-friendly approaches we can work together to help your child to recover their smile, their optimism and their freedom from such a fear.

If you live in or around Reading or Oxford then give me a call and we can discuss how I could help you. You could call 07786 123736 / 01183 280284 / 01865 600970, email me at paul@resolvedcounsellingforchildren or use the contact form at the base of this page.

I also offer counselling and psychotherapy for death anxiety online, using vsee, whatsapp, zoom. Please get in touch for details.


Paul in Reading