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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
the grandmother of a fiend of mine is dieing. She's wondering how to explain to her 2 year old dd what is happening to her great-grandma, given that they don't believe in god or heaven. Does anyone have any suggestions?<br><br>
I don't have any ideas, although my partner's grandma is still alive so no doubt sometime i the next 5 years or so we'll be grappling with a similar question.
 

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do you know the book "The 10th Good Thing About Barney?" Our cat Fiddle died when I was 5 or 6 and that was my first experience w/ death ... my mom got me this book on that occasion, and I still get this deep sadsweet feeling whenever I think about it. The story is that the little boy's cat Barney dies, and the little boy is bereft of course, and his parents suggest that he make a list of 10 good things about Barney. So the boy comes up with 9 things (like the way he would curl up on your feet and keep them warm, or the way he would go crazy w/ a ball of yarn, etc) but he can't think of the 10th and he feels awful about it. And then he realizes that the 10th good thing about Barney is that now his body will help make the flowers grow and make the world a more beautiful place.<br><br>
I realize that a grandma is not a cat, but this could still be a good way to start talking about death.<br><br>
I think decomposition is a really positive, hopeful way to talk about death. I also like to think of a sort of decomposition of the soul... You know, as we go through life, we leave little bits of ourselves in the other lives we come in contact with, and those little bits decompose and fertilize and help other souls to grow. I don't know how to translate that into 2-year-old, however.
 

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For me that's hard to do since I am religious...but thinking outside of the box maybe you can explain it like this...<br><br>
Get a flower (something that dies quickly and a child can relate to) and show that the flower is now alive. Then explain that everything can not live forever. I would then let the flower die (every day watching it with the child) and ask if they see any changes. I would then somehow equate the changes they see with how our bodies are when we die.<br><br>
(they may say the flower looks old, dry, something like that). I would explain that as we get older, we get like an old flower. Then when the flower dies, show that the flower is no longer like how it was in the begining, but it has seeds that can make new flowers so that a little part of them still lives....and equate that to us as humans (seeds being mommie, daddy, and the child) and explain that although grandma may not be here much longer, she like the flower will still live in us<br><br>
something like that....was that helpful?
 

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We talked about how some people's bodies stop working, and after they die their bodies (or ashes in our case) go into the ground and provide nutrients to the soil, help plants grow, animals eat the plants, etc.<br><br>
It might not be as hard since it's an older person dying; we were explaining the death of our baby to my 2-year-old. We made a point of talking about how it's rare for younger people to die so he wouldn't fear his own mortality as much.
 

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When something/someone is done living it dies. As they get older it's very easy to expand that idea to they are done living because they are old, they are hurt to bad to heal, their body is ready to be done... or whatever fits that requirement.<br><br>
It's a very simple accurate statement. Dead is being done living. Done breathing, done growing, eating sleeping, everything. It's not a sad explanation to a two year old.
 

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There is a book called Lifetimes. I don't think it was religous or anything. It talks about everything has a lifetime. Birds, butterflies, dogs, trees and people. I really liked it.
 

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We are Jewish and have pretty strong beliefs but we personally don't believe in heaven or an afterlife, we do believe in G-d, however we don't believe G-d "takes the person" or anything and have not explained death that way to our kids. I have twin four year olds and a three year old and my grandfather (who we were very close to) died this summer and my cat died last week.<br><br>
we told the boys that Poppa was a really good person and lived a long long time (99). He had a wonderful life and we have wonderful memories of him. we still talk about him a lot - his life not his death. The cat was 14 so she also lived a long time. but even if we lost someone young I think we'd say the same. a week after my twins were born my 28 year old cousin died - of course I never had to explain that to them but I think I'd say the same - she had a wonderful life and we loved her very much and we miss her but we have memories.<br><br>
At the funeral we put dirt on the coffin (Jewish custom) and we told the boys this mitzvah (commandment) is a way to say "thank you, we'll miss you, good bye, and we love you" and it's a really nice and special thing to do because it's a favor that you do for a person that they can't ever do back. I guess that would apply to you but it may be nice to observe some sort of custom that makes it easier to say goodbye. don't know if that one would work but a plant on the grave might be nice or something - something you can look at and think of your loved one - and your loved one helping the plant grow is really meaningful too.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
thank you all, these are really good suggestions, I'll pass them on to my friend.<br><br>
megtel, is "Lifetimes" a kid's book?
 

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It's hard at age two to explain death, I think.... I like the flower analogy for a littlie, that sounds like a nice visual way to explain getting old to someone who's just beginning to get the idea of life outside themselves.<br><br>
My kids are older, 4 & 6 now, & I tend to use a more biological explaination when we have to deal with death. We talk a lot about good food, which ties into the whole idea of life-giving things coming from the earth, which ties into how babies develop & are born & how they eat before & after they are born, & so on & so on.... And we talk about how nothing lives forever, how leaves drop off & return to the earth to give food to the new leaves, we talk about how animals die sometimes, & people sometimes die too.... Never really in any sort of serious talk, just snippets of things here and there..... just sharing our way of looking at life & death as it comes up, I guess. We haven't had to deal with the death of a close family member since our kids came along, thank goodness, so this approach hasn't really been put to the test over anything other than chooks or wildlife. Hope that helps a little bit. <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/smile.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="smile">
 

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We've had a cat die each year for the past 3 yrs (they were old) anyways at age 1 dd had no concept, age 2.5 was sad (I cried alot) but no questions. The last of our cats died when dd just turned 4. dd had a lot of questions and I felt I really needed a good "game plan" on what to tell her. We're not religous, but I did use heaven/soul and the decomposition/body theories. dd cried the whole way to the crematory (sp?) and kept the urn near her for several days. A couple of months have gone by and every now and then she throws out a out of the blue question (can the cat breath in the urn?, etc)
 

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We have "The Tenth Good Thing About Barney," too. <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/thumb.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="thumbs up"><br><br>
We've had pets die in our family, and I had an early miscarriage, and each time ds' questions were different (he's 5 now). At first, when he was 2, his only questions were along the lines of "Will Piper come back?" and my answers were just gentle explanations that death is final. Now his questioning is more about survivors: "When you die, I'll be sad." I affirm that when someone we love dies, it's very sad and we miss them.<br><br>
I explained that when someone dies, their body is done ... "empty". I let him see & touch the pets' dead bodies (he wanted to). Obviously this wouldn't be practical in every situation, but he was able to experience how they weren't warm anymore, how they didn't respond, etc.<br><br>
I'm not religious, but I do believe in some kind of afterlife/rebirth, so I've explained to ds that some people believe there's an important part to us that we can't see, a special part that makes us who we are, and that after the body is dead & empty, that special part still exists but we can't see it. I told him I didn't know where it is. This only came after he had a firm grasp on the permanence of physical death, of course.<br><br>
We also talk about how even though dead people are gone & don't come back, we always have our good memories of them, in our hearts and minds, and nothing can ever take that away.
 

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A some what relevant thing....<br><br>
My father died when m dd was 2 1/2 and one month before my DS was born. Dd never really asked about death but we took her to see Dad in the funeral home and told her that we had to say goodbye to him, that he was gone and we wouldn't see him anymore. We live overseas and always have since the kiddos were around anyway, so we didn't see much of my folks anyway. My brother died this year and when dd saw me crying she of course asked what was wrong and I just told her that Uncle Jimbo had died and that I was sad. That was about all that was said, she seemed to understand and accept it. Didn't really faze her that much.<br><br>
Today, we dropped off some photo's to get developed and I said we should get double prints so that we can send some to Nanna and Grandpa and Baa Baa (That's what she calls my Mum - dd's own made up name)<br>
Anyway, Dd then said, don't forget we have to send some to your Daddy too .... it made me smile, All I could say was that we couldn't really send anything to him anymore, but that we should know that he is in our hearts and he knows how happy we are....she seemed happy with that!<br><br>
B T W...also not religious!?<br><br>
B
 
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