Spiritual and religious beliefs may help comfort children

A family’s cultural, spiritual, or religious beliefs are often very important in how they understand death and cope with it. People who have a strong religious faith are often comforted by the idea that a higher power is present in their lives. This faith can help them cope with their loss and suffering. If people believe in life after death, death may be seen as a new beginning. Some people are angry for a while and struggle to match their spiritual beliefs with what’s happened to someone they love. The question “Why?” is one that most people ask, and many turn to a higher power for help with the answer.

So how do these beliefs affect how children understand the illness and death of a parent? The explanation of life after death is hard to grasp because it’s based on faith and may not seem clear to a child. A child might be comforted that Mommy is now in a safe place with no more cancer, or they could feel angry that their Mommy has been taken from them. The child will understand death in the context of what the family believes.

You can share your personal beliefs with your children. In time, children develop their own belief system which may help them make some sense of a parent’s death.

The American Cancer Society medical and editorial content team

Our team is made up of doctors and oncology certified nurses with deep knowledge of cancer care as well as journalists, editors, and translators with extensive experience in medical writing.

Last Revised: March 20, 2015

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