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Dealing with death-how to talk about it with a 3.5 yo and 2 yo.....

(17 Posts)
DarrellRivers Sun 01-Jul-07 10:37:41

My brother died recently, unexpectedly and he was only 32.
I have been at home with my parents and my Dcs ,DD 3.5 and DS 2, and DD knows that her uncle has dies, DH told her (but i wasn't sure what exactly was said as i wasn't there) and her great granny died recently so i think he told her it was like that.
I like the idea that his spirit is still around, and that the idea of heaven is a comforting one.
She knows that sometimes we feel sad, and she has seen us at some point or another in tears.
I was thinking about it last night though, I am avoiding mentioning my brother's name to her as I don't want to make a big thing of it, but feel confused because I want to talk about him and keep his memories alive.He doted on my DCs alsways giving them large inappropriate gifts.
He did die unexpectedly however from a brain haemorrage, how do you deal with all the questions 'why ' that may stem from talking about it?
DS however is pretty oblivious to it all.

Any helpful hints etc

lilolilmanchester Sun 01-Jul-07 10:50:09

so sorry to hear about your brother, it must be a difficult time for you.
From my experience (our DCs have lost 3 grandparents), I suspect it affects them less than we think it will. We had tears but then they were over, and perhaps yours are too young to fully understand. You will have your own views and no doubt get lots of conflicting advice, but I would talk to them about your brother's death, have a photo of him around the place if you want to. In answer to the question "why"? you can honestly say "we don't know why these things happen, but it's made us all very sad". Or "part of his body was so broken the doctors couldn't fix it, so it was kinder to him to go to sleep and not wake up". Hope you find a way of dealing with this, alongside your own grief.

DarrellRivers Sun 01-Jul-07 10:54:26

thanks for your kind words
i think i will also chat to dh and found out exactly how the conversation went
i suppose what freaks me out is how young he is and how when at least the older generation die there is a natural order to things.
i suspect you are right, and they probably think of him as pretty old anyway

lilolilmanchester Sun 01-Jul-07 13:57:40

It is awful having to explain to children about relatively young people dying. A friend of a friend died suddenly at 42 recently, leaving 4 teenagers. I was dreading telling ours because they would realise that parents can die, as well as grandparents. In a way, tho, the fact that they had experienced losing grandparents several times already did help with that, they said "how sad", but as far as I can see, i don't seem to be dwelling on it.

hazygirl Sun 01-Jul-07 16:57:51

we have a photo album full of photos and the girls aged two and four look at them when they want,the eldest talks about her brother who died const\antly but the two year old does talk much yet.there are books to help explain death to children

doughnuts Sun 01-Jul-07 17:07:50

Frog and the Birdsong by Max Velhuis (spelling probably wrong I think) is a beautiful book which might help.
Really sorry for your loss DarrellRivers - what a shock for you.

doughnuts Sun 01-Jul-07 17:11:29

it's Velthuijs - am not very good at links, but here goes :
http://www.amazon.co.uk/Frog-Birdsong-Max-Velthuijs

zeebee Sun 01-Jul-07 17:38:38

So sorry to hear this. Sounds like you are doing really well as it is so hard to protect your DCs as well as deal with your own feelings.
Ime with a 4 yo, such young children can often deal with this much better than we can, they can seem to accept the facts, provided you don't give them more info than you think they can deal with ie answer the questions they ask rather than supplementary questions that they don't.
I think it's very healthy to mention your brother in conversation, especially if you did when he was alive. He will always be part of their/your family and it may be confusing and conversely make it more of a big thing for them if he is suddenly not mentioned

However, it might be wise to avoid mentioning anything to do with your brtother going to sleep as at this age it could really freak them out in terms of their own sleeping. DD likes looking at pictures and talking about memories.

Twiglett Sun 01-Jul-07 17:41:38

I am sorry to hear about your brother

I shall go and find my 'hand in glove' story .. it really is the best way I've found to talk to young ones about death

hang on a tic

Twiglett Sun 01-Jul-07 17:42:53

By Twiglett on Fri 21-Jul-06 20:48:17
I put a hand in a glove (well in a sock cos I couldn't find a glove)

I said to DS .. "this is you .. the glove is your body" (wiggling fingers all around), "but the hand is the bit that is really you and some people call that your soul or your spirit" (keep on wiggling)

"when you die your spirit goes on" (gently take hand out of glove and make it keep wiggling and swooping around .. tickling him works too as you gently lay the glove down on the ground)

keeping his attention on the hand swooping I said "when you die you don't need your body any more so your spirit leaves it behind" .. spirit hand keeps swooping and talk descends into tickling

doughnuts Sun 01-Jul-07 17:57:01

that's a lovely way to do it,twiglett

DarrellRivers Sun 01-Jul-07 19:27:00

thanks again, i like the hand and the glove story twiglett
explains it very well
she hasn't asked yet what died/dead means so i am prepared now
speaking to dh , he told her that her uncle had left and had gone to live with god.
she accepted this
will avoid any sleeping terms zb and will purchase said book doughnuts


had a good weep this evening as well
i found ggglimpo's words about maud and that she had found that she needed to pick herself up and keep walking with the living to be very true
thanks again

lilolilmanchester Sun 01-Jul-07 19:56:54

zeebee, our using people going to sleep was always relative to the alternative of people who had died living and hurting - not just anyone going to sleep and not waking up. Our DS's first experience of losing someone was when he was 3 1/2, and you have to find a way of describing what death is like in their terms - without frightening them. Part of how you do it depends on your own children. We have always (and sadly had too many occasions, not just with Grand parents) used the going to sleep bit. neither of our DCs have ever been frightened or not gone to sleep because of that. You're right, it has to be considered in terms of your own children and how they might take it. But don't say we were wrong to do it that way- it worked for us and our children haven't suffered as a result and have a good understanding that departed loved ones aren't coming back. I wish we hadn't had to to explain it as often as we've had to.

zeebee Mon 02-Jul-07 09:59:15

llm, so sorry your DCs have had so much experience of this. It breaks my heart that such young ones have to experience this so soon (and in our case the death of one of their friends) when all we want to do is protect their innocence.
Didn't mean to cause any offence or say you were wrong, of course every situation is different as are the children involved. I was just providing another point of view, as you say there is so much advice as everyone is different. My DD didn't like going to bed by herself in the immediate aftermath and we had told her her sister had gone to heaven (and like you that she was so poorly that the doctors could make her better). It is a bit of a minefield as you are always hoping to have done the right thing by your DCs but how can you ever be 100% sure.

DR, the 'life goes on' saying takes on a whole new meaning doesn't it?

lilolilmanchester Mon 02-Jul-07 10:30:32

no offence taken Zeebee, you hit a raw nerve that's all, sorry if I was a bit gruff. Anyway, this thread isn't about me! Darrell, sorry for the diversion, how are things with you and yours?

DarrellRivers Mon 02-Jul-07 19:11:41

Doing better today thanks, and following on from todays helpful tip on the homepage, named one of the DC's teeth Uncle ...
Then brushed very thoroughly.
He would have liked that, he was a dentist.

lilolilmanchester Mon 02-Jul-07 20:20:24

That's a lovely idea. Will be the cleanest tooth around I reckon!

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