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Things to Avoid Saying When You Explain Cremation to Children

Explaining cremation to children can be difficult. We want to help you navigate that conversation. There are a few things that you shouldn't say. Keep reading...
Things to Avoid Saying When You Explain Cremation to Children

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As cremation becomes more common across the country, more parents and grandparents are faced with the challenge of explaining the process to children. It’s a difficult conversation to have with anyone, but can be particularly hard when you’re talking to kids that are already grappling with the idea of death, possibly for the first time. 

Hopefully, you found our previous post on how to explain cremation to a child beneficial. In this post we are expanding on the conversation to include suggestions on what to avoid saying during the conversation. Avoiding certain words, phrases and language can help the child approach cremation with understanding rather than fear. 

“Burn”, “Burning” or “Fire”

These words are instinctively scary to young children under the age of eight or nine years old. They are going to associate it with pain, danger and destruction because that’s what they’ve been taught about fire and burning. You’re better off saying they “use very high temperatures” or something similar because that’s the case at many crematoriums. Extremely hot gases are used to cremate, not fire. 

And the fact of the matter is, today cremation may not involve incineration at all. Water cremation uses a liquid solution to decompose the body in a natural way with less harmful byproducts. 


Kids are inevitably going to ask what happens to the body. For many years, people would say “ashes” to describe what happens to someone’s body as a result of cremation. This has always been a misnomer, and can be a visual that reminds children of burning and fire.  

Instead, say “remains” or “cremains”, which is the correct term. It also makes a stronger connection with the loved one compared to saying “ashes.”

Emotionally Charged Words

In general, you want to avoid using emotionally charged words anytime you’re explaining topics related to death. Emotionally charged words or phrases tend to be strongly positive or negative and drum up emotions in people. As you might imagine, emotionally charged words often describe feelings both emotional and physical, such as despair and agony. They can also be descriptive in an overly positive or negative way like saying someone looks gaunt or sickly instead of just saying unwell.  

The better alternative is to stick with words and phrases that are more neutral. They will impart the same idea as the emotionally charged words without eliciting such a strong reaction.

If you are still having a difficult time handling the loss of a loved one emotionally it’s not the best time to discuss cremation with a child. You’ll want to be calm and collected so that the conversation remains productive for the child and doesn’t become distressing. 

The team at Green Cremation Texas is very mindful when explaining our cremation process to people of all ages. It’s a very delicate subject to handle that many people aren’t very familiar with until they lose a loved one. If you have questions about green cremation or how services are arranged you can call, text or email us 24 hours a day.

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Marlaena Gonzales

Funeral Director
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