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Do You Discuss Death With Your Children?

By the time my daughter was two she had attended three family funerals. In the years since, more people have passed including her great-grandfather and a preschool classmate. She notices when the phone rings with bad news or someone disappears so I've always told her the truth — that people eventually die. How do you handle death with your children?

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CaterpillarGirl CaterpillarGirl 8 years
there is a wonderful book called "Children and grief : helping your child understand death by Joey O'Conner" that explains how to talk to your children about the subject. It goes into what is age appropriate, what they will understand, how to deal with it as they get older and can understand more. My own father died at 3, and my mom had 4 girls under the age of 10. She had no earthly idea how to cope with all of us, and explain death in terms that we all could understand, it was a very confusing childhood, and has affected me into adulthood. Always be honest with your kids, dont paint some unrealistic picture of death that will just confound them in the future.
techkim techkim 8 years
I had to tell my son when my dad had a heart attack and got a lovely triple bypass. He is doing amazing but I wanted my son to understand what could have happened since he is 6 yrs old. My brothers child 6 and 3 were also told. It all worked out but they now have some insight to death.
brandysbug brandysbug 8 years
I am so sorry for all of your losses mentioned above. My daughter is only 18 months, but since she was born, I have lost a grandmother and a grandfather and my husband has lost an uncle and now his grandfather just last week. It has been a very tough time for both of our families. I was very close to my grandparents and have cried a lot about the losses - my daughter can definitely tell every time something happens but obviously doesn't understand. She has been to the funerals/memorial services/burials but doesn't necessarily know what's really going on. In the future, when she is older, I know that my husband and I will be honest with her about death and what it means. We will be supportive, honor her feelings and ways of grieving, and answer any questions she may have as honestly as we can. Death is so hard to understand at any age!
lickety-split lickety-split 8 years
death is an abstract concept, so while we have been honest about the deaths of people in their lives, we also accept that that means revisiting the issue as it comes up. there was a classmate who's mother died in my youngest daughter;s preschool class (they were 4 & 5). when the kids started talking about summer plans the boy who's mom died said he was going camping; with his mother. so there was another discussion then. the boy said "but she goes every summer". my mom died about a year and a half ago and my then 8 year old got it and was VERY upset. my then 6 year old knew people were upset, but didn't really understand. several months later when kids in her class were talking about grandparents day she burst into tears. it's difficult for kids, where does someone "go"? we've read a few books on the subject, maria shriver;s was the best of the group, but not so much that i'd say rush out and buy it.
Greggie Greggie 8 years
Like kiki said, truth but age appropriate. I'm not sheltering them by not giving the brutal detail at age 4, just like it wouldn't be fair to tell them Grandma went on vacation. And of course, what we teach our children about death includes our beliefs about Heaven and meeting God.
jessie jessie 8 years
yes we explain to our children. they've never been to a funeral though. we have had friends pass on. the only family to pass was their great gramma who passed in january and i was the only one who flew home for that. but they've asked what happens..what the body looks they hear..what do they feel like..what do they do when they get "put in the ground" wasn't a easy discussion, but they had the right to know. by sheltering them from it just makes it harder for them later in life
SKC-Sparkle SKC-Sparkle 8 years
I think it is important to be honest with your children so that they have a realistic perception about life and death.
Chrstne Chrstne 8 years
My parents were honest with me. When my grandpa died of cancer, I was 6. My mom told me that my grandpa loved me very much, but he wasn't coming back, because he was sick and he died. I was to young to understand. When I was 8, my grandma died -- and by then, I was crystal clear on what death meant, and I was hysterical. I appreciate that they never lied to me, or told me someone was sleeping. That would have been bad to do. My parents however, did tell my brother, who is younger than me that my grandparents were not coming back, but both times he was too young to care.
kikidawn kikidawn 8 years
I think it's best to be truthful - just be age appropriate. schnappycat, I'm so sorry for your loses.
schnappycat schnappycat 8 years
Two weeks ago, both my grandpa (expected) and my dad (unexpected and sudden) died within two days of each other. It was a horrific time for my family and we had 2 funerals in less than a week. My son attended the second funeral, but is still too young to know what was going on, which I think is a blessing right now. However, I'm sure I'll have to explain to him in the coming years what happened to grandpa(s). I think this experience will give me a reason to figure out how I want to handle future bad news with him. I just don't know exactly how yet.
luv2blazy luv2blazy 8 years
My grandmother died last year and we discussed it with our daughter right away. But being only 5 then she didn't understand what was going on. This year she wanted big grandma to come to her birthday party, and we had to explain that grandma was in heaven. It was difficult because I started getting emotional again. She cried a little, but I felt it was best to be honest with her.
Pallas-Athena Pallas-Athena 8 years
My cousins have dealt with death a lot, a lot for young children. We always tell the truth and they feel free to talk about it all they want. It makes them feel better and while they're not always okay with it, they understand death.
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