So, I thought it might be helpful to consider some likely questions or conversations and take a moment to think about responses. Helping children to understand and manage their emotions, can also help us as adults to think deeply too.
As always, keep discussions age appropriate and use language they already know. There are other useful resources on the site, if you are also finding the situation is triggering you in some way.
* Information will drip fed, so we may not be able to answer everything straight away. It’s OK to say, ‘I don’t know, but I will tell you as soon as I do.’ A good source of information is actually the official Royal Family website.
* Children are going to relate their experience to their own life as much as possible. If they have living elderly relatives, they are probably going to ask about their mortality. Be open and reassuring if possible, but if anyone is ill etc it may also be a good time to lay foundations for that.
* Try to actually use the word Dead. Children don’t understand euphemisms and they can prove very confusing.
* As very few people will remember a time before the Queen, there will be a National, global sense of loss. Children, even if they have no great personal response, are likely to feel the grief of others. They may respond by copying others, and repeating what they hear.
* Life may be very strange for some time, in addition to people and titles changing we will have new money, stamps, post boxes etc. everyday things will change slowly, and may raise questions slowly too.
* You may be surprised how affected children are. Remember they have just spent a lot of time talking about the Queen as part of the Jubilee. She may also have been a constant, benign figure in their lives and that loss can make the whole world feel unsettled.
* Your own reactions will also have an impact. How your household behaves will direct much of their response.
* Older children may well begin to consider their feelings about many issues – including their politics. Be ready for challenging conversations about the role of the Monarchy as a theory and our political structures and traditions. You may want to inform yourself about some of these topics if you don’t feel confident.
I personally think the opportunity to discuss grief in this widest possible situation is a good thing. Hopefully a chance for our culture to open up a little and have these tough, but essential, conversations. Helping children to understand grief, and how people can respond to it is a powerful and helpful thing to do.