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About John Kennedy Saynor

How Do Dead People Get Chocolate Cake?

by John Kennedy Saynor

daisies“Chocolate cake! What do you mean, ‘How do dead people get chocolate cake?'” This is the response I get from many adults when they read this title.

Many adults have difficulty imagining the questions children have when someone they love has died. Many of these questions remain unanswered because children are afraid to ask them. Their unanswered questions often complicate their grieving process.

How Can We Help the Children?

  1. Begin to talk to them before the death occurs. This will give children an opportunity to ask questions and to prepare for what lies ahead.
  2. Provide a safe, secure environment for them. They need the security of the family.
  3. Tell them the truth. They will learn the truth eventually.
  4. Be simple. Tell them the basics and then answer their questions.
  5. Listen to what they are saying. Don’t put words into their mouths. Let them lead the discussion!
  6. Encourage children to express their feelings. It is OK to cry.
  7. Encourage them to talk about the person who has died. Help them to talk about the good times they remember.
  8. Be prepared to discuss the death within the religious, spiritual or philosophical framework of your family. Be willing to admit there are aspects about death and dying you don’t know or understand.
  9. Help them to adjust to any changes in responsibilities and routines that may occur in the family as a result of the death.
  10. Allow children time to be alone. Solitude is important. During times of quiet, they will be able to formulate their questions. Perhaps they will even find answers to some of their questions!
  11. Provide extra support in the case of a sudden death. Remember, if a child wasn’t told of the pending death of a family member, then in the eyes of the child, it is a sudden death.

So, how do dead people get chocolate cake? They don’t. That’s because dead people don’t eat, sleep, or breathe. We have to say goodbye to their physical presence, but remember they will always be with us in our memories. If we help children understand this, it will help them in their grieving and they will have a healthier attitude towards death and dying as they grow older.