I know that this is developmentally appropriate and am hoping to hear from mamas who have already been here with their LOs.
My almost 9 yo DD, who already has some pretty major anxiety in her regular state of being, is deeply worried about death. Some nights she can't sleep because she is laying in bed worried about any number of possible causes of death. One night she got out of bed to tell me that she thought her heart had stopped. I explained that if her heart had, in fact, stopped she wouldn't be able to talk to me now. If she sees or touches an insect she worries that it may have been poisonous. If she touches a plant she fears it may be poisonous. I catch her constantly checking that her seat belt is as tight as it could be in her booster. She is so worried. She has shared with me that she knows that these fears are not based in reality but that she can not stop worrying.
If you've been through this developmental stage, with a child who had similar concerns, and have any advice based on your experiences I'd really love to hear anything that you have to share.
Mama to 3 lovely home learning, nature loving girls (10), (7), (3).
I am responding because I was a very anxious child, I still am. I wish (!!) my parents found me some real help at the time. I have no idea about this as a developmental stage. I just know it has been really hard to grow up with out any skills to manage my anxiety.
do you have any spiritual belief urself? can you share what you feel happens after death?
are there close family members who have died and you miss them. can you hold regular rituals honoring them and talking about them so your dd can see how others do around someone who is passed.
can you find out exactly what she is scared of. is it what really happens during death or is it what will happen to those around her if she dies.
i have discovered that meditation and spiritual belief really helps dd with her anxieties.
She has shared with me that she knows that these fears are not based in reality but that she can not stop worrying.
This really stood out to me as a sign that her worry may be beyond what is natural. My children are younger than yours and I know it is typical for the 5-6 yo set to have concerns and worries about death. I'm not sure it is typical at an older age. With your daughters worries to a high level and her recognizing it is a problem in her life I would urge you to consider professional help for her. It doesn't have to be a dx or a long term thing, just some skills to manage her anxiety. They will help her for a lifetime.
From my christian perspective, God has an enemy who is called the father of lies. This enemy is constantly injecting thoughts that discourage and frighten us. The Bible calls them flaming darts. He shoots a thought into our mind and we can either reject it or mull it over.
I practice rejecting these thoughts by calling on the name of the Lord. I get thoughts all the time about my loved ones dying and it's disturbing. The enemy (Satan) is doing his darnedest to keep us from enjoying God, trusting God, taking God (Jesus) in as our eternal life.
To me, it's not just about trying to explain to her where or what people do in the afterlife. Although that was good advice to help her memorialize her loved ones in a spiritual way. It's about her, right now, and these thoughts are plaguing her because she doesn't know how to reject them.
You can explain it without the Christian perspective like this:
A bad thought is like a bird flying into your mind. If you let the bird stay and build a nest then that thought will make its' home in your mind and make you anxious. If you shoo the bird (the bad thought) away it cannot stay and bother her.
Hope that helps. If you want to hear more you can pm me. Probably many don't want to hear too much talk of God and Satan, and I hope I wasn't too much.
I think Shami's advice is very good. I'm not religious, but have come to find a similar approach to unwanted thoughts (I'll tend to dwell on negative events for too long, making myself feel badly when there's no reason to - I came around to picturing the thoughts exploding in my mind, like fireworks as a method of getting rid of them and will do that until I can get around to thinking about something else.). I think I would work with her to focus on decreasing her worry primarily - because a certain amount of worry, wondering about death would be normal and it's not as sure that research into death would be reassuring.
I find music helpful. If this is often at nighttime - some relaxing or favorite music that could play in her room while she fell asleep might be a help. Songs that might have a more reassuring message could be particularly helpful. A worry journal (where she could write down her worried thoughts as a way of getting them out - maybe keep in your room or have her use it near you/not alone). Sketchbook and drawing materials - just to have something for her hands to do/something else to focus on?