View Full Version : Discussing death with children
06-28-2007, 09:19 AM
My father is extremely ill and we are preparing for his passing. I was wondering if anyone has any experience with discussing the death of a grandparent or other loved one with their children?
My children see my father nearly every day and they are very close with him. I know that my daughter is familiar with what it means to die (we had to put down a pet a year or so ago) but she has never had someone she was so close to die. We are skiddish about discussing the fact that he's sick and tired with her because I am often sick and extremely tired. We don't want to scare her.
06-28-2007, 09:48 AM
I am sorry to hear about your father :(
I think there was a thread on this earlier -- I thought Renrel had started it but I couldn't find it when I did a search. I did find a different thread that I started nearly 2 years ago re: Toddlers & Funerals that I bumped up for you (in the 12-36 months thread). Not the same thing as discussing death w/ children, but still bumped it in case there was anything useful in there for you.
Anyway, I know that you are religious so I think your religious beliefs (or absence of them, for those who are not actively religious) have a lot to do with how you choose to explain death to young children. Does your church have any literature or suggestions on how to deal with this? You could check with them.
When my FIL died, I focused on what my faith taught about death and the afterlife to try to explain to my DD in simple terms what was going on. We just told her that when people die, they go to heaven and we will all die someday. Of course, she was just shy of 2 when her grandpa died, so a lot of it didn't really make sense to her then. It wasn't until she got older (2-3) that she started to ask questions and really got curious about death.
What I found difficult to explain (and still do) to my 3.5 year old DD is, how can Grandpa be in heaven (which we taught her) when he is buried at the cemetery? I have found it very difficult to explain abstract concepts like heaven (which our faith teaches/believes in) to a toddler. She has argued with us before that grandpa can't be in heaven because he's at the cemetery, and she KNOWS he's there (cemetery) because she has seen his tombstone with his name on it. It's hard to explain the body vs. soul stuff to a child (the physical body is buried but the soul is in heaven). And I've found it hard to explain WHY certain people die when others don't die until later. You might want to anticipate some of the questions your DD or other children might ask, and think about how you'd want to answer them.
Other than that, my only suggestion is to look for books that explain death in a way your kids can understand. And if you plan to take them to the funeral home and/or funeral, talk to them in advance about what they will see and why. (e.g. some people might be crying. They are sad because they will miss the deceased, etc.) Encourage them to ask questions. Remind them that we will all die someday and death is not a bad/scary thing. I think this one is hard for preschoolers because if the children see people crying or grieving, they may get scared and wonder why everyone is so sad and then they might associate death with being something scary.
Good luck, and again I am very sorry about your father. Wishing you peace during this difficult time.
ETA - I wanted to add that DH's grandfather died this past February and he was cremated. THAT was a hard one to explain to DD (she was 3 at the time) because she wanted to know where his body was. Whether your father will be buried or cremated, you might want to think about how to answer any questions that might come up related to cremation or burial, just so you are prepared.
06-28-2007, 10:02 AM
Thank you so much. I will definitely look at the other thread as it would most definitely apply to my son as well. And I think you have some awesome ideas. Thanks so much for the advice.
Its in the 12-36 month thread,I bumped it up
Here's the link
06-28-2007, 10:10 AM
Thank you! That's the thread I was thinking of! Hopefully the thread that Lisa bumped will provide additional help to you LMC.
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