talking to kids about death - Mothering Forums
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#1 of 5 Old 02-14-2002, 01:01 AM - Thread Starter
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My grandmother has cancer and mostly likely only has about 6 months to live. In the midest of being sad, angry and scared, I am also concerned about how to talk about this with my DDs, who are 3 and 5. My DH and I have agreed to not discuss it with it for several months, as they really don't need to be concerned about it now and 6 months is a really really long time at their ages.

Also, my FIL is is very, very bad health and could die anytime, or linger for months. He lives in Ireland and the girls and I will not see him again or attend the funeral (we went back last August to make sure that we could see him again and let the him see the girls one last time, but can't afford for all 4 of us to keep traveling back and forth).

My children see my grandmother several times a year and talk to her on the phone every week. We will travel back to home town several times in the coming months and attend the funeral.

I don't have any idea how to explain any of this to my kids.

Also, I am pagan, my DH is an atheist, and my extended family is fundementalist Christian.

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#2 of 5 Old 02-14-2002, 01:34 AM
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I'm also not sure what to brother died in an alcohol-related accident, so of course I want to talk about it when I get to the "don't drink" part of growing up, but DD is only 2 months old now.

Eventually, she'll ask about who the guy in all the pictures on my mirror is, and I really don't know what I can say that she will understand.

One time when I was fourteen I had a frog that starved to death. When it died, it looked gross and I didn't want to touch it, so I thought I would have my 3-year-old sister take it outside for me. I reasoned that she had never seen a frog before, never seen anything dead, never heard about death, so she would not be grossed out. Wrong! She started screaming when she saw the frog. She refused to touch it. I don't understand how death could affect her at that age, but it did.

I thought of maybe buying a pet that doesn't usually live too long, like a goldfish. Then when it dies I can explain what death is like.
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#3 of 5 Old 02-14-2002, 05:18 AM
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there are some good books you might want to start looking at, we got some because our doggie died and it was difficult for all of us. One small booklet is called "children grieve too", another one with drawings is "sad isnt bad" we also got another one but it was pet related. Ds was very into them for a while and then less and less. In one of them theres an illustration of a girl who has a caterpillar in her hand and I used to tell him that the caterpillar turned into a butterfly and that alone used to bring him a lot of confort, he would smile every time. I never said that our dog was now a butterfly or that she was in heaven, but this image was enough for him. I wouldnt read the book to him but just talk about the drawings, the books were helpful for us too.
There must be some books that can help to explain beforehand
I hope things go well for you
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#4 of 5 Old 02-14-2002, 12:09 PM
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Hi, My children (6 and 3) have lost both grandmothers in the past year to cancer. I highly recommend the books, "Badger's Parting Gifts" and "The Fall of Freddie the Leaf". Neither is religious. Badger dies in the first book and his "parting gifts" are all those memories that his friends have of him. "Freddie" is a leaf on a tree that grows and experiences the seasons then eventually watches his leaf friends fall and then he does. Sort of in the "circle of Life" theme...VERY gently told.
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#5 of 5 Old 02-14-2002, 12:43 PM
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It can be so difficult to talk w/our children about death, especially when we are grieving. Last year in Mothering, there was a wonderful article about this subject~you could probably order it still if you are interested.

My dh died 1/5/00, when my ds was 3 1/2 yo. I was at such a loss for what to say/do, especially since he died from suicide. Luckily, we have a family grief and loss support group that helped us both through our range of emotions. I have always been honest w/my ds about his dad's death, even though it could be so uncomfortable at times.

There are some great kids books out there that can help too~"Where is Grandpa" and "When Dinosaurs Die". Another book which has helped me parent a grieving child is called "Guiding Your Child Through Grief."

As for the spirituality/religion aspect of grief, loss and death~in the book when dinosaurs die, I think they touch on different beliefs. I have always just asked my ds "Where do you think Dad is" to see what he comes up with. I don't want to push my beliefs on him (we are christian). He told me some very beautiful thoughts~"that dad is a beautiful butterfly and lives in the forest" and that "dad is teaching other kids in heaven". What peaceful thoughts!

Good luck and also, there is a grief and loss forum that might be helpful too.



Lisa, Todd, Dane and Amber: & :::
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