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Help! A close friend died - what to say to 2 year old?

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A close friend of our family died last night. This was not unexpected as he has been fighting cancer for over 3 years and took a very sharp turn for the worse about 2 weeks ago. We have spent a lot of time with this family in the past 2 years and dd loves going to their house to play. We will likely go there tonight or tomorrow to visit (just dh and I went last night, left dd with friends) and I need some help figuring out what to say to dd. Obviously her comprehension at this point is quite limited regarding death. Dh and I have talked and definitely do not want to say "he died because he was sick", "he went on a trip", "he's sleeping"....I'm not totally clueless just not totally sure either. We really want to use the words died/death/dead and thought maybe we could say he had a disease? Although she won't know what that is. I did not take her to the house in the last week because he was so ill that I didn't want her to see him (eyes rolling around, groaning in pain, totally bloated, unable to focus or concentrate) and I don't plan to take her to visitations or funeral.

Any suggestions?
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It is such a credit to you that you have the wherewithall to focus on your tender 2 yr old in the midst of grieving for your friend. I had just done a few searches through threads myself to find similar words of advice. ( No one has passed yet, we are just on the verge with a sick kitty and a sick Great Grandma....just getting prepared. Dd has also been asking leading questions "where is your grandpa, mama?")

Here are the recommended book titles I picked up on a few old threads:

Lifetimes by Bryan Mellonie
Fall of Freddie the Leaf by Leo Buscaglia
Badger's Parting Gifts by Susan Varley

I have also read that in answering questions or explaining about BIG issues to small children, sometimes they will accept very little in terms of explanation. That is to say, you might get away with saying "he passed away" and your dd will accept it until she has more questions. It might not be as simple as all that, but you really might not have to go into too much detail. Allow her to ask questions that lead you to know her concerns...she might not care "why" or "how" just "where" he went. You know what I mean.

I have not read the books, yet, so I can't recommend them myself...but I plan to so I can be prepared for her next round of questions. So far, i have told dd that my grandpa was not with us anymore. She said "Where is he?" And I said "He's not on the earth, anymore. Look honey, there's the Home Depot!!" She hasn't asked again....I better get my story straight!
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My Dad died when my DD was 2.5 and she was quiet communicative.
We live in London and my family live in Australia so we had to pack up and leave in a big hurry. DD asked where we were going and I told her that we were going to say goodbye to Pappa and that he had died.
We did go to a viewing and my DH and I wanted her to see him. He looked very peaceful and just like he always had. I thought that seeing him would help her to understand more about death. She also saw that we were all very upset and she even cried a little. (Ironically I guess, her little brother was born 3 weeks later and she saw him enter the world,so she had birth and death all in the same month!)
My brother also recently passed away and although we didn't make the trip home she was totally understanding of the whole thing, she was almost 4 at the time. DS who was 18 mths didn't understand at all, although he had only met my brother once so maybe it didn't count so much...

I would just say be honest and don't be afraid, even though she is so small she will take in what she needs to know and understand that and leave the rest behind. Kids are so amazing at understanding things and we probably should give them more credit!

Good luck and I am sorry for your loss.

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I've been wondering a lot over the past few days about taking her to a visitation for a few minutes becasue otherwise she really won't have any idea what death means. I wondered if seeing him would help her to understand it beyond the fact that he is just never around anymore....
My mom just died two weeks ago and my dd just turned 26 months. I just told her "Meemaw is gone." I didn't even tell her until we were practically at their house (long drive).
She repeats it sometimes, and did not look for her at my mom and dad's house.
She attended the visitation and the funeral (at my dad's request). But we had no "viewing" or anything because my mom did not want an open casket.
I don't think seeing the person lying there dead is going to help him understand that the person is gone and not coming back.
FWIW, I was not planning to take her to the funeral cause I thought she'd be disruptive (she was, LOL), but my dad really wanted her there.
It is hard either way, and I am sorry for the loss of your friend.
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