Our lovely friend has just lost her DD at 5 years old, it's just completely devastating. LO had life long health issues, but they weren't evident to other children IYSWIM? So as far as DD is concerned, her friend was never ill. I need to talk to her about it, explain what happened, as she's been asking where her friend is, but I have no idea how, and know I'm probably not going to be able to hold it together while I do so. If anyone has any advice, it'd be much appreciated.
I am very sorry to hear this. (hug) It's very hard talking to children about death...your religious stance will play into what you say to her....are you religious? What do you believe happens when people die?
I am a Christian but my DH is more spiritually open...we have told our children that people might go to heaven or they might get to come back as a whole new person in a new life. But that;'s hard with small children as they want to know if they will meet their friend again and if they will recognise them.
If you don't want to go down either of those paths, you could say that she has died and gone to be with her Granny/Aunt (other relative who has passed) who is going to look after her now and that she's ok but you won't be able to see her again.
Tell your DD that you can however send a balloon up to her with a message on it. Talk to your DD about it...she might worry about you dying or other loved ones. Personally I choose to simply say "I've got no plans to die just yet!" and jolly them into another line of thought...I don't want to lie about death but I also don't want to be scary and say that people die all the time...it's too much for them to process.
Keep it very simple and truthful. Explain there had been an illness that her friend knew about so she doesn'tworry it was sudden. We talked about bodies being suitcases. What matters is what's inside and the memories. Winston's Wish is a good resource And it's ok to cry. She will need to know it's ok to cry and that she doesn't have to bottle it up.
My dd died as a baby and we found that we had to be very careful what we said to ds4 who was 3. At one point he thought that she was living up the road with the local priest in the church because his Nana had told him the church was "Holy God's House" and he came to the conclusion that Father G was Holy God and lived in the church and he thought Father G was very unreasonable to take dd and why didn't we just go up and get her?
At five he understands a lot more. There is a lovely book called Waterbugs and Dragonflies which explains it quite nicely and I wish we'd bought it at the time.
Thank you all so much for replying. Neomaxi we're not really a religious family, but I remember being told as a child that a family member was up in the sky with the stars, and I always found that sort of comforting. I definitely agree it's best not to mention the 'everyone dies' thing just yet. Lunatic The fact that LO knew about her illness is something I hadn't really thought about, but it may help DD see that she maybe wasn't afraid. Chipmonkey I'm so sorry that happened to you I know what you mean about phrasing things right, when DD grazed her knee her DGF said she'd 'skinned it', que DD on the garden path looking for the skin to put back on :/.
Thanks again everyone, hopefully this will go as smoothly as these things can.
Redlips, I think it might also be worth telling her that children hardly ever die. Mind you, dh and I often have to tell ourselves that, we can be a bit paranoid about something happening to our boys as well as dd. But a lot of children, if a child they know dies, are very afraid it will happen to them too. It's as well to let them know it's a rare occurrence.
Your poor friend will be devastated. I meant to say, we have a nice gentle thread here for bereaved Mums if she wants to talk to people who are going through the same thing.
Look at winstons wish website ...they have excellent advice on books etc You could also give them a call ...they are so friendly and will assist you however they can. Try to tell the truth. One excellent tip I was told is turn any tricky questions around eg if child asks: do you think we go up to the stars when we die? You can reply with....do you think we go up to the stars when we die? Sometimes deflects from sticky situations when you don't want to lie but don't want to shatter their beliefs either. Good luck x
Is it worth using the old "body couldn't work any more" explanation. Coupled with an explanation that her (insert organ) wasn't working at all well and then it stopped working and that even though she didn't look sick, her mummy knew that she was sick because the doctors had said that she was.