How to explain death to a 4 yr old? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 8 Old 03-05-2005, 11:09 PM - Thread Starter
 
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My aunt passed on this morning from congestive heart failure. My dd knows she's been sick and visited her in the hospital recently. I will have to take dd to the funeral with me which I'm not thrilled about but it means I cant exactly hide this from her. How do I explain it? Were not Christian so explaining she's with god now doesn't sit well with me and honestly I've never really thought about what to tell her.

Seriously?
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#2 of 8 Old 03-05-2005, 11:25 PM
 
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Moving this to Parenting Issues...
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#3 of 8 Old 03-05-2005, 11:25 PM
 
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Satori, I'm sorry for your loss. I have no words of wisdom though.
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#4 of 8 Old 03-05-2005, 11:27 PM
 
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Mothering had a wonderful article a few years ago about this....the articles aren't on-line right now on the site, but I found this:

My Darling Clementine

Hope it helps...sorry for your loss

I have retired from administration work, so if you have a question about anything MDC-related, please contact Cynthia Mosher. Thanks!
 
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#5 of 8 Old 03-05-2005, 11:33 PM
 
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I'm going to take a stab at this only because I have a four year old - not 'cause I think I have great answers.

You might consider saying that when people get very old, they die, which means we can't see them any more and we're sad about that, but we do special things to remember them (like the funeral) and that we can keep our memories of them close. Maybe you could share some special memories of your aunt? Or photos? So that your dd is clear on who she was and how she was special to you.

My 4yo is clear that old people die, but we don't talk about children or mothers/fathers of young children dying. She'll clue into that on her own, when she's more ready, I think. Not that we lie to her about those kinds of events, but we don't make them topics of discussion, you know?

You might consider feeling out the funeral plans in advance, if you need to take her - it might be great or it might be scary for her, depending on who's doing the service and what they plan to say. You could skip the service but attend the lunch if there's one planned.

I'm sorry for your loss.

Can't give up actin' tough, it's all that I'm made of. Can't scrape together quite enough to ride the bus to the outskirts of the fact that I need love. ~ Neko Case

 
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#6 of 8 Old 03-06-2005, 11:10 AM
 
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My gma died earlier this year, and I took dd to the funeral. She turned 4 a couple weeks later. We, also, are not Christian.

What I did is focus on the "circle of life" angle. To my advantage, dd has seen both the Lion King and the Land Before Time in which they introduce this comforting concept. The circle of life is that all things are born, live a life, and then die...and more things are born....and it is perfectly natural. It is sad, but not something to fear.

Like pp, I have focused on *old* people dying (my gma was 90), but dd has asked about young people/children dying. I was truthful--yes, this can happen. But then said that "normally" people live long lives. And that is why we do a lot of things that we do: wear seatbelts, eat healthy foods, go to the doctor, etc....to assure that we will live long, healthy lives.

I am very sorry for your loss.
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#7 of 8 Old 03-06-2005, 12:14 PM
 
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{{{Satori}}} I don't have any words of wisdom, I think the PPs had good ideas. Just wanted to give you my condolences.
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#8 of 8 Old 03-06-2005, 12:33 PM
 
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Satori
I am so sorry for your loss.

My oldest was 5 when my dad died. He had a lot of questions about death, what happened to "grandpa", if he'd be able to see grandpa, etc.

I do not have any specific religious affiliations but I do have spiritual beliefs and ideas about death.

I was honest with my son and simplified my own beliefs about death. I told him that grandpa's spirit/soul was finished on earth and went back to the spirit world. I told him that his body stopped working and when the body stops working, the body dies. Whatever you believe, you can find a way to simplify it and then your daughter will ask for more clarity if she needs it.

In the literature at the funeral home, it said when talking to kids it is important to use words like "died" because it is more concrete & final than words like "passed over" which can be more confusing.

My ds asked a lot of questions and the questions would come completely out of the blue for at least a year or more. He even asked my mom specific details about where grandpa died, how he died, what it looked like, etc. He needed quite specific information and at very unexpected times.

As for the funeral, we explained to the kids that we were all coming together to remember Grandpa and all be together to help each other.

You will figure it out and again, I'm so sorry for your loss.
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