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  1. #1
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    Default Explaining death to children?

    How do you explain to your kids about death/dying/heaven? If you're Athiest do you mention heaven?
    Our dog just had to be put down. He was only 15 months old but we've been back and forth to the vets for almost 3 months with breathing and vomiting problems.
    The girls asked where he went and we told him the truth, that he was very sick and the vet couldn't fix him so he died.
    They kept asking if he could get better and come back to our house.
    My Mum had mentioned heaven before when my Nan died so we said he was there with her.

    Now they keep asking about it; how did he get up so high in the clouds (lol!), why can't we go and get him but worst of all worrying if any of us get sick that the doctor can't fix us, we'll all die and they'll "miss us too much".
    I just told them that will never happen which isn't truthful really so how can I explain better to them? They're 4...

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    Subbing. My DDs friend died recently and I've still not told her as I don't know how to explain it to a 3 year old

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    I just told the truth. I'm an atheist, but I said, "Some people believe in a place called heaven, some people believe in reincarnation, etc etc" and explained what they were (briefly).

    I just say everything that is living eventually dies. Plants, pets, people. Everything that is living... and that it might be sad, but it's just something that happens, and we can still remember them and talk about them and it's okay to miss them... etc etc.

    When she asked questions I didn't have the answers for, "But WHY do we need to die?" I just told her: "I don't know, nobody does." It's the truth, after all.

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    That's terrible Karen Alot worse than explaining about a dog.

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    I am atheist. I told DD the truth. When someone is dead they are gone and you can't see them again, but they still live in our memories and our hearts. That everyone dies, but she and I are not likely to die for a very long time, so there's no point in worrying about it. I haven't mentioned heaven. I think someone at school mentioned heaven to her, she asked me about it a while ago. I said some people believe in it and she can believe in it if she wants to.

    ETA - my uncle died when I was a teenager and DD has seen pictures of him and knows he died. I've made a lot of effort to talk to DD about him and demonstrate how when someone is dead we still love them, look at pictures and talk about happy memories of them.
    Last edited by shelle65; 13-06-2013 at 17:01.

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    Yep, just the truth. When my boys were worried about me dying (stage they go through) I just said that most of the time people live for a long time, until they are old like grandma, grandad etc etc... They seemed to accept that.
    We had a cemetery close by, and used to cut through it on walks sometimes, so I would explain about death a bit when the kids asked about the headstones, and I explained how some people are cremated, some are buried and you can come to the cemetary to remember them etc...

    Tough situation Karen!!

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    Thanks for replies. Do you think 4 is old enough to explain?
    I'll wait for them to bring it up again but if they worry about me or anyone else dying I'll try and explain about old age.
    I also had to talk about drowning today. All 3 girls were having a shower and B put a washer over the drain and I told her not to do it because 6mo doesn't know how to swim and could drown, I told them that it would be ok because we're doing swimming lessons and they accepted that no more questions.

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    I think I covered it at about 3-ish, so I think 4 is definitely able to understand. Just make sure you use words they'll understand.

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    One of our dogs died recently and we were quite open with DD about it.

    She's known about 'death' for a while - plants, flowers, movie characters - so understood the theory at least.

    We didn't do the heaven thing - primarily because I didn't feel like introducing another major concept to her when she was already grappling with first hand experience of death.

    I think a day or two after our girl died DD said she thought our dog's heart was still with us every day. We ran with that. She has occasionally asked if our dog will ever come back to life and we've said no, but she'll always be in our hearts. The combo of her heart being with us and her being in our hearts seems to work for DD.

    DD is 4.5. She tends to 'feel' things quite a lot so rational information helps her balance the feelings. We have explained to her what was wrong with our dog and why that meant she got too sick to live. Obviously in an age appropriate way.

    Eta: I'm so sorry you lost your dog x

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    Quote Originally Posted by Karen2010 View Post
    Subbing. My DDs friend died recently and I've still not told her as I don't know how to explain it to a 3 year old
    How heartbreaking xx


 

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