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DD keeps talking about graveyards, coffins and death...

(11 Posts)
Sugarbeach Fri 04-Sep-09 23:10:34

It's freaking me out. She wants me to take her to the church yeard and talks about all this and ask me questions. I don't know how to explain about the seriousness of "death", and can't just bring myself to talk about it without making it an issue - in fact I don't want to talk about it, but she keeps asking questions.

DD is 4 1/2. It seems she got the idea from Snow White, the glass coffin etc.

Any advice?

CurlyhairedAssassin Fri 04-Sep-09 23:18:29

I think the key would be to take the cues from her. Question her to gauge her prior understanding before you launch into any explanations. eg "Do you know what death is, what it means when you're dead?" and follow on from there.

It was only recently that 5 year old DS1 has stopped proclaiming "That looks like a really boring park - look at all those boring statues" at our local cemetery when we drive past. Statues meaning headstones. He is slowly being drip-fed info by things he sees on TV. ie. learning what a graveyard is from the likes of Scooby Doo or whatever. He now knows that when people die their body effectively becomes an empty shell, which needs either burying or cremating otherwise it would go all mouldy!!! I am not religious but went with the whole "your soul goes to heaven to meet up with relatives and friends who have died, but your body is no longer needed" etc.

You could try taking her to a very old church yard on a lovely sunny day so it's not at all creepy and pointing out details on the headstones.

MavisEnderby Fri 04-Sep-09 23:23:33

Well,ds is 5 and interested in stuff like this.It is natural childhood curiosity.

So,I have had

What happens when you die?

Me."you are not breathing,you can't feel anything.".Youarejust a body.It is like being a lump of meat.

At the time of all the death questions we found a dead bird in the garden,so it was a bit easier.I said that the body was eaten by bugs and worms and then went back into the ground and helped with other things like making the flowers grow.DS observed the decomposition stuff a bit.It sounds morbid but I think that being honest is best or else children will believe all sorts.If you are religiopus then you can add the bits about going to a better place and all that.

Also "When will YOU DIE,MUMMY?"

Not for a long time,people usually die when they get very old.Sometimes when they are young but this is not often.

Gravestones,what are they for?

They are there to remember people who have died,and people put flowers there to remember what a lovely person the dead person was.

feedthegoat Fri 04-Sep-09 23:31:00

My ds brings this up from time to time lately.

We lost my Grandad at the beginning of the year and the last few months were fairly traumatic followed by his guinea pig not long after.

I did post on mumsnet after for advice and some lovely mumsnetters (to whom I'm very grateful) gave me the reassurance I needed to talk to him about it without panicking. I didn't shy away from talking about it and I anwser his questions as honestly as I can.

His questions were more along the lines of why doesn't grandad need his chair? Who's going to live in his house? though rather than requests to visit graveyards mind!

I can't remember who, but someone on here told me about a technique using a puppet to chat to a child. Then taking it off explaining that when someone dies their body is not needed anymore but what is left is the things you loved about them etc. It made me cry at the time as I thought it was lovely and I did try it and he seemed happy with this. You might be able to adapt this general idea to suit your needs if she is looking for some sort of understanding of what happens

My ds has calmed down with all the questions now but brings up the odd comment now and then.

MavisEnderby Fri 04-Sep-09 23:32:21

Ok,lump of meat prob bad analogy but..you can't see,or hear,or smell or touch anything.
Everybody dies,but not for a long long long time,usually when you are very old.

Sugarbeach Sat 05-Sep-09 16:58:36

Thank you all for the various ideas and ways of approaching this.

With all the explanations and especially with talking about it alot, it still niggles me that I don't want her to come away thinking "dying" is no more serious than other events, such as, visiting a hospital or goiing to the dentist, iyswim.

I think DD panicked my Mum-in-law when she came out with "When you die, you go in a coffin, and they bury you in the ground in a churchyard, and put a grave stone on it, so people can remember you"

She is used to the idea of death (maybe not in the way that we understand it) since she was a baby, as my mum has passed away for over 15 years, and I always wear the necklace she gave me, which DD has played with around my neck as a baby. When she was around 3 and I explained about Mum gone to heaven and God etc..One day she said matter-of-fact way, "When you die, you go to heaven and you can meet up with God and Mum.." which kind of made me think at the back of my mind "I hope she's not thinking about dying being a 'good' thing, because she thinks she will see God', which links to thoughts of accidental suicide etc.. am I going mind?

Sorry for rambling on, this thread is my first post. Only got into the mumsnet thing a couple of weeks...I think I've missed out b4 then.

CurlyhairedAssassin Sun 06-Sep-09 00:55:03

Sugarbeach, I know what you mean.....I remember DS when he was younger, about your daugher's age, saying "I wish I was dead." Cue big gasp from me! Obviously I recovered enough to say "er, why?" and he said "Well, I'd get to fly around up in the clouds - it must be fun." grin

I simply explained to him that once you were dead and up in heaven that was that - yes, you were in a nice place, but you would never again be able to come back again to Earth and see the people that are still alive on earth and do the things that we like to do on earth eg have conversations with them etc . He seemed to accept this, and it helped make him see that while death is not something to be TOTALLY terrified of (which would cause him to lie awake worrying when we his parents were going to cark it and leave him alone), it DOES mean that it's final.

I think she is spot on saying "When you die, you go in a coffin, and they bury you in the ground in a churchyard, and put a grave stone on it, so people can remember you". Why on earth were you panicked when she said that to your MIL? She is factually correct and seems to understand it, so perhaps it IS more YOUR problem than hers???

mathanxiety Sun 06-Sep-09 01:21:46

This is a concept little DCs have a really hard time grasping. I've tried going the way of religious explanation "the people who have died are waiting in their graves to go to heaven" as we are Catholic. This was naturally met with some scepticism {grin] by my budding scientists. I have also explained, after they became aware of skeletons, and after finding some animal remains in the woods, that the body returns to the earth and helps plants to grow eventually. Then comes the inevitable question of mummy's mortality, and I have always said that yes, everyone must die some time, but hopefully only when I'm really old and cranky creaky, and at that time I'll be looking forward, most likely, to being able to make a tree or flower grow. I explained that having a grave means you can always visit where the person you love is now living. I don't think the accidental suicide thing is a concern -- children would have to be nuts to go through with something like that. My DCs, having gone through the questions phase, etc., have learned in school that when you pass a graveyard, you have to hold your breath or the souls of the dead will enter you through your nose. hmm We frequently pass a cemetery that is really huge, sometimes in heavy traffic, and it's hilarious to see them all there in the back seat...

DEMifnotwhynot Sun 06-Sep-09 01:33:27

My ds decided at 3 he didnt want to be burried. it just came out of now where. Turns out 6 months previously we'd walked through a grave yard and he'd been told off for climbing on the graves. he'd ask why and been told that was where people had been burried.

IME the young are far more excepting of death. Ds' dad was terribly freaked out by the conversation. He doesnt talk about it much other to say to his great gran "i need to play with you lots before you die beause I can't play with you when you are dead"
and "i really miss x" family pet which died.

its part of life to wonder about this stuff and its how we as adults handle it that impacts on how the situation moves forward ie general acceptance or major issue.

Life happens and we can protect them from everything. We just make the choices we do to do the best we can.

Sugarbeach Mon 07-Sep-09 22:46:28

Thanks all for taking the trouble to write and share your experiences - I feel better about this now.

Curly - Yes the flying in the cloud bit - we had something along those lines.
It was the MIL who panicked (I wasn't) when DD said that (about burying coffin etc) as they walked through the churchyard. Perhaps it is my problem, if you can call it that, as I don't feel comfortable with talking about death in a purely matter-of-fact way.

Moz50 Thu 10-Sep-09 16:08:55

My 7 year old son has woken twice this week in absolute terror at the thought of me dying. He says when I die he will kill himself. No amount of calming and reassurance seems to work. He doesn't want to be hugged as he says this makes it worse because it makes him think about how much he loves me and how much he would miss me when I die. He is an only child and I am a single parent, 43 yrs old. No other signs of separation anxiety, in fact in the mornings, despite his tiredness, he runs happily into school ahead of me. My mother died at a young age as did his paternal grandfather, so I have had to be honest about it not only being very old people who die. Hopefully I've done this in a senitive but matter of fact manner. In the past he's asked many questions about death, afterlife, burial and cremation, but without any alarm bells. Now I am becoming concerned given the level of his distress. Please help ..

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