What happens when a child has to face the death of the parents? We will give you some guidelines to help you cope.

Denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. Those are the 5 stages of grief we go through when we lose a loved one. But what happens when a child has to face the death of the parents?

Experts agree that children under five years of age do not understand what death is. For them it is as if the deceased person is sleeping, or on a journey from which he will return. That is why it may happen that they do not mourn their loss.

When they are older, they go through different phases. First they cry and ask for their mom or dad to come back. Then they lose hope and are apathetic. Little by little, they break the emotional bond that linked them to the deceased and overcome their loss.

Throughout this process, they may suffer from episodes of anger and have a more childish behavior . Some children also wonder if the death was their fault. It is also common to increase the fear that the other parent will abandon him or also die.

Nightmares, insomnia, violent behavior, fear of being alone or of the dark or poor academic performance are some of the consequences derived from the death of the parents. That is why it is very necessary to be by their side, hug them and tell them that everything will be fine.


If communicating the death of a family member to an adult is complicated, when it comes to children it should be done with great tact. Hopefully we never have to go through that procedure but, if that is the case, psychologists recommend following some guidelines:

  • The parent who is still alive must be the one who communicates the death of the other. When? As soon as possible;
  • Do not give details about the death, but clearly tell them that mom or dad has died. That way they know they won’t see him again. If we tell them that he is gone, they can delude themselves that he is going to come back;
  • Let the child go through the phases of grief, give him the time he needs;
  • The boy has to say goodbye, but he doesn’t have to go to the funeral. You can ask him to write a letter, for example;
  • When they feel guilty, it is important to make it clear that they are not to blame for anything. That it has been due to an accident, or an illness , but not because of something they have said or done;
  • Talk to the school so that their teachers understand what the little one is going through.


In the event that the deceased parent has left an inheritance to their minor child, it is normal for the surviving spouse to accept the inheritance on behalf of the child and manage their assets until they reach the age of majority.

The orphan’s pension

In addition, the death of the parents gives the right to request the orphan’s pension when the children are minors. This economic benefit is granted by Social Security (The Social Institute of the Navy in the case of sea workers) and its objective is to protect the child financially.

Currently, to collect this pension it is not necessary for the deceased to have contributed for a minimum period. It is charged until the beneficiary turns 21 , or until he turns 25 if he is studying, does not work or his salary is less than the SMI.

In cases of simple orphanhood, the amount to be received is that corresponding to 20% of the regulatory base of the deceased person . When the orphan is absolute, the amount increases to 52% if there is no beneficiary of the widow’s pension. If there were, the percentage of the orphan’s pension is added to the percentage set in the widow’s pension.

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