News0 min ago
How do you explain death to a child?
Our children are aged 3 and 4. My elderly parents live with us, one of whom is in poor health. We also have an aged Corgi who has lived long past her expected lifespan. If a grandparent or pet (or anyone else in our household for that matter) should die, how does one explain that to the children?
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Our children are so young - 3 and 4 - I don't know that they even understand the concept. Did you say something like Grandmother went to heaven? How did you convey this? I stupidly pointed to a relative's niche in the columbarium at the cathedral once and told the children that so-and-so was in there. They know that holiday things go into boxes after the holidays, for example, the big nutcraker is in a box. So when I said that about the relative, they simply thought that Aunt Ursula was put into a box until some holiday...which is an interesting thought now that I type that...
Rampart, At their age, they may understand at first, then they will question it and you suddenly realise that they didnt understand in the first place!
I used storybooks when i needed to brooch the subject, a lot of the good books are with characters that they already know. Make sure that when you explain it to them, that you have the time to spend with them, that you're all comfortable and that you dont have any distractions. make sure your children know that its ok to ask questions no matter how upsetting they think it may be - because funnily enough, even at their age, they dont ask questions because they feel it might upset Mummy or Daddy. Let them know that it is ok to be upset and that when somebody passes away, even you will be really sad, but that its ok because its normal to feel sad, lonely, sacred, confused, let down, afraid, frightened etc. use all those words so that they know what words are appropriate for them to use and explain them all.
I would start discussions about your Dog. let them know that you're dog is old and that old people pass away. describe what you mean in simple terms e.g. go to sleep and not wake up, go to heaven, become an angel / a star / snowflake etc. when they get older they will understand about peoples spirt still being with you, but at this age, they dont understand. Maybe have something of your parents/dog that your children can have as a memory such as a scrap book, stories that they have made up, aftershave/perfum/dog collar etc
All i would suggest, through experience, is be as honest as you're children can take and REASSURE them that its natural and that you will be there for them whenever they need to talk.
good luck and god bless at this difficult time for you.
I suggest using dead leaves as "props" while you explain the difference between living things that, when their time is over, become part of the "wheel of life" - however you choose to explain it. Ideally this should be done before it becomes relevant so the idea can be revisited at the appropriate time.
I feel this idea of granny being "somewhere else" is very confusing for a child & the green & brown leaves are much easier to see the difference between something that is living and something that is dead.
Oh, and "going to sleep and never waking up" can be a highly frightening concept!