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  1. #1
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    Default How to explain death to a 3yr old

    My grandmother is going to pass away within the next few days.
    I'm having trouble keeping a brave face and my 3yr old DS keeps asking me why I'm sad.
    I told him that his great grandma is sick and it makes me sad.
    He understood 'sick' but thought he could just kiss me better (so adorable)
    How can I explain to him that she can't be fixed and I'll probably be sad for a while?
    I've had a lot of losses in my life but none since he was born

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    I'm so sorry

    My dd is 3 and it's a hard age with this stuff, this is no where near close to what your going through but my dd lost her gold fish last week and was extremely upset (she is an extremely sensitive child)
    She told me Geoffrey (the fish) needed a kiss and a cuddle and he would wake up.
    I sat her down and told her the fish had died and let her ask the first question.
    She asked what that meant I just told her it was like a very long sleep, that he wouldn't wake up from, that his body is still here but he had gone some place nicer.
    We're not religious, but I told dd about a few different religious views on the after life in a kid friendly way, I kind of just said "some people believe that when someone dies...."
    Honestly, most of it went over the top of her head and she didn't fully understand but is so hard to know what the right thing to say in situations like this is.
    My grandmother is sick, she has been for a long time and we don't think she will make it to the end of the year.
    I spoke to dd a few days later about her great nanny and how her time to move on is also coming near, she repeated bits back to me on what I had told her with the fish and she seemed to understand (as much as a 3 year old can) we have also made it a thing to talk about so she can ask questions, I've tried not to leave it as a one time conversation thing.
    We are looking at getting some child friendly books that explain death, my views have always been to teach her about all different types of religion so if she chose to be religious later in life she was informed, so we are trying to find religious based books about death so we can mesh that all together.
    Perhaps you could find a child friendly book to read to your son that reflects your views on the afterlife and death?

    Its really is hard, I found the conversation I had with dd about death wasn't one I was confident in, I was caught between trying to tell her the truth, my views and not being harsh or frightening her.
    I'm sure other posters will have better ideas and can word things a lot better than what I have, just wanted to share how we are kind of doing it.

    One thing I didn't expect was that dd became hysterical when we buried the fish, I tried best I could at the time to tell her that's what happens, it's like a nice bed, all of that, she then asked when I told her about her great nanny if she would be put in the ground, I said yes, but it seemed to upset her more so perhaps if your son asks this kind of question be prepared (I wish I was!) or just leave that part out for now.
    Dd has started to understand it more but out of the whole thing, her learning about burring has been the hardest for her to comprehend.

    Good luck

  3. The Following 2 Users Say Thank You to Liddybugs For This Useful Post:

    debsch  (27-06-2014),Lumpy Melon  (27-06-2014)

  4. #3
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    I'm quite lucky because we live on a farm and our kids are exposed to death from a young age. My 4 year old is currently going through a phase asking questions about it. I tend to talk about animals being sick and mummy not being able to fix them (I'm a vet) or that people's bodies stop working properly when they get old. Then their heart doesn't work and they die. He seems quite accepting at the moment so hopefully my good luck continues.

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    Lumpy Melon  (27-06-2014)

  6. #4
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    Thank you so much.
    That really helps.
    She passed away about an hour ago so tonight DH and I will talk to him about it.
    I'm too foggy to do it alone.
    Thank you again

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    No advice but big hugs to you <3 I'm sorry for your loss

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    DesperatelySeekingSleep  (27-06-2014)

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    I'm so sorry for your loss

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    Lumpy Melon  (27-06-2014)

  11. #7
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    When my pop died last year, we had a DVD made for the funeral of all the photos of Pop we used in the funeral service. We then had copies made for each of his 5 children. My young cousin who would've been 5 loved watching "Pop's movie". I think we watched it about 20 times in 2 days after the funeral. It was so simple, and given it included photos of her and her siblings with him, it was a special thing to her.
    Given my mum and I were staying with my aunty and her family at the time, there was a lot of discussion about it. Mind you their other grandma had died the year before so death itself wasn't a new concept. I think being straightforward and honest about it will help. My mum has worked in palliative care for years and hates when people use phrases like "passed on", "gone to sleep" etc when talking about death. By using phrases such as "grandma died this morning" do help avoid confusion, particularly in young children. You could say something like....

    Grandma died this morning. Do you know what that means? When people get very old/very sick, their bodies decide it's time to stop working. Grandma was in a peaceful sleep when she died. She wasn't hurting anymore. So when mummy is sad, it's because she loved grandma very much and it is sad to say goodbye to someone you love.

    Perhaps if you and your DS have some memories of things you did with your grandma together you could talk about those too. Don't be afraid to let him see you cry, and don't be afraid to take him to the funeral either. My Papa died last week and it was nice having the great grand kids at the funeral. They didn't know what was going on, they just played and giggled which was a nice distraction. Try to talk to DS about the good memories you have of your grandma. My cousin was asked by my papa to speak at the funeral and his speech was hilarious. It recounted all the things that made my papa who he was. Death doesn't have to be all doom and gloom. It is also time to celebrate the life your grandma had, and the times you had with her. She may be gone, but the memories will stay with you.

    Saying goodbye to a loved one is always hard. My thoughts are with you x

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    debsch  (27-06-2014)


 

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