Explaining death of Grandma to just turned 3 year old

(20 Posts)
TheMNPeacekeepingForce Thu 27-Dec-07 16:09:01

My friend's mum died recently and her dd (just turned 3) is wondering where grandma is and why only grandpa is coming to stay over New year.

What can she say that she can understand without upsetting her - anyone got any experience of this?
Her dd knows the grandma has been very ill and understands that.

OP’s posts: |
NAB3wishesfor2008 Thu 27-Dec-07 16:10:26

I would tell the truth. That grandma was too poorly for the doctors to make her well and she died, which means she won't be able to see her anymore.

Sorry for your loss too. sad

TurkeyLurkey Thu 27-Dec-07 16:11:57

Same as Nab. Tell the truth, I did with mine when they were that age and they just seemed to accept it quite matter of factly.

ChasingSquirrels Thu 27-Dec-07 16:12:18

dh's nan died when ds1 was 3y4m and he just tok it in his stride. But he was at the peak of his death phase, so already had (a child's) understanding of death.
Is the dd aware of the concept of death at all?

mum2taylor Thu 27-Dec-07 16:14:17

My mum passed away just over a year ago and my dd turned 3 in August this year....me and my daughter were extremely close to my mum and it was really hard (still is) to accept that she isnt here any more...

I told my daughter that her gran had to go to heaven to be with the angels but that she is looking down on her all the time and looking after her....I also told her that her gran is the brightest star in the sky at night and she always looks for the really bright star now! U just have to be strong for them and dont be scared to still talk about them, as I never want my daughter to forget what a wonderful woman her gran was smile.... hope this helps!

TheMNPeacekeepingForce Thu 27-Dec-07 16:14:49

Thanks - good ideas.
But would you use the term 'died' - I guess the difficult thing is going to be explaining what death is.

OP’s posts: |
ChasingSquirrels Thu 27-Dec-07 16:19:22

it depends how they feel. ds1 understood that death means that the person doesn't exist anymore. We don't believe in God so bringing any sort of afterlife into it wasn't an option for us. Although as I said in my last post, he was already aware of the concept of death before it happened to someone he knew.

Persumably the Grandma was reasonably old, and had been ill, so NAB's way of addressing is probably best.

It can be addressed without using the term died, but you have to use some term, and whatever term is used will have to be explained.

paulaplumpbottom Thu 27-Dec-07 16:20:40

I think the truth is best. I think they see straight through alot of the little fibs we tell to spare their feelings and they might end up more confused in the long run

mum2taylor Thu 27-Dec-07 16:27:55

I think 3 is a bit young to go into death too much....there is no doubt that curiosity about the subject will come up again when they are a bit older and can digest the information better. I agree with the fibs point to a certain extent but if it helps to explain things better to them then what harm can it do....its no different to telling them Santa delivers presents to every boy and girl in the world....and we all fell for that 1 at one point and I think it was a good fib smile

FrannyandZooey Thu 27-Dec-07 16:41:45

I agree the truth is best

it can be upsetting but I believe they absorb it easier at this age than when they are older, actually

prepare for a lot of questions and try to plan how to answer them honestly

FrannyandZooey Thu 27-Dec-07 16:43:59

I also think fudging it and not using the term death means that they are still partly in the dark and this much more likely to worry

unless you explain that when we are old / very ill, our bodies stop working and it is called dying, they worry that they could disappear, or that anyone could - they don't know why Grandma has suddenly gone - it doesn't make any sense. Tell them the truth in simple terms and put their minds at rest, ultimately.

lisa34 Thu 27-Dec-07 21:22:33

I lost my grandma when my ds was 3 years old -i told him the great-grandma had gone to sleep and she was now living in the sky on the rainbows. Every time he sees a rainbow now he waves and shouts hi great grandma - it keeps her memory alive and always bring a smile to my face smile

lottiejenkins Fri 28-Dec-07 09:06:14

Have you thought about contacting Winstons Wish? They are a charity that helps explain bereavment to children, i have used them as have several friends the link is below...................

Hulababy Fri 28-Dec-07 09:33:38

I would tell the truth and yes use the word "dead" - it kind of makes it more clear. As it is a grandma I am assuming she was reasonably old (at least int he child's eyes) and possibly ill - so just say that the doctors couldn't make her better any more as she was just too old and too poorly. And that yes, it is sad that she can't see her any more but that grandma will not be hurting or poorly any more. We do believe in God so use the idea of Heaven as a nice place to be.

Nemostwonderfultimeoftheyear Fri 28-Dec-07 09:44:24

When my nan died in march ds was 3.4yrs. I just explained that she had been very sick and had died and that although we couldnt see her anymore he could talk to her all he wanted as she would watch over him from the clouds. He was fine with that and still says he talks to her and that she is high in the sky.

bogie Fri 28-Dec-07 09:47:43

Tell the truth kids take it fine. my grandma died when i was 2 and i went to her funerel and when they lowered her down i said bye bye grandma i love you. Mum said it set everyone off crying even more.

HonoriaGlossop Fri 28-Dec-07 10:36:26

Agree with others, the truth is needed of course. I agree with franny that kids of three are actually more likely to absorb it and cope, than an older child; I guess it's sometimes to do with whether they transpose the information to give them intimations of their own mortality, or not; a three year old may just accept that an older person has died, without the other stuff troubling them...but it is surprisingly young that kids do realise we all die. And I think knowing the truth from the beginning is the kindest way of doing it.

I know that people talk about going up and watching over people and being a star and while I don't disrespect other people's own views, every cell in my body just revolts against that. It's not true, not in my humble opinion - and it is different than the father christmas fib, because it's about a fundamental truth of life that it's important to our emotional development to understand....FC just about a few pressies!

TheMNPeacekeepingForce Fri 28-Dec-07 13:45:08

Thanks guys - will pass your great advice on to my friend.
She was ill but not that old sadly.

OP’s posts: |
moljam Fri 28-Dec-07 13:47:41

our eldest 2 dc were very young when we lost my granmother and dh dad within about week of each other.we told them they werent around anymore but had gone up to the sky to become stars.they used to look out window at night and chatter to nanny and grandad.we found it oddly comforting also.

BrieVinDeAlkaSeltzer Fri 28-Dec-07 13:52:09

This might help.

A Parable of Death As A Transition to A Better Afterlife

Down below the surface of a quiet pond lived a little colony of water bugs. They were a happy colony, living far away from the sun. For many months they were very busy, scurrying over the soft mud on the bottom of the pond. They did notice that every once in a while one of their colony seemed to lose interest in going about with its friends. Clinging to the stem of a pond lily, it gradually moved out of sight and was seen no more.

"Look!" said one of the water bugs to another. "One of our colony is climbing up the lily stalk. Where do you suppose she is going?" Up, up, up it went slowly. Even as they watched, the water bug disappeared from sight. Its friends waited and waited but it didn't return. "That's funny!" said one water bug to another. "Wasn't she happy here?" asked a second water bug. "Where do you suppose she went?" wondered a third. No one had an answer. They were greatly puzzled.

Finally one of the water bugs, a leader in the colony, gathered its friends together. "I have an idea. The next one of us who climbs up the lily stalk must promise to come back and tell us where he or she went and why." "We promise," they said solemnly.

One spring day, not long after, the very water bug who had suggested the plan found himself climbing up the lily stalk. Up, up, up he went. Before he knew what was happening, he had broken through the surface of the water, and fallen onto the broad, green lily pad above.

When he awoke, he looked about with surprise. He couldn't believe what he saw. A startling change had come to his old body. His movement revealed four silver wings and a long tail. Even as he struggled, he felt an impulse to move his wings. The warmth of the sun soon dried the moisture from the new body. He moved his wings again and suddenly found himself up above the water. He had become a dragonfly.

Swooping and dipping in great curves, he flew through the air. He felt exhilarated in the new atmosphere. By and by, the new dragonfly lighted happily on a lily pad to rest. Then it was that he chanced to look below to the bottom of the pond. Why, he was right above his old friends, the water bugs! There they were, scurrying about, just as he had been doing some time before. Then the dragonfly remembered the promise: "The next one of us who climbs up the lily stalk will come back and tell where he or she went and why."

Without thinking, the dragonfly darted down. Suddenly he hit the surface of the water and bounced away. Now that he was a dragonfly, he could no longer go into the water. "I can't return!" he said in dismay. "At least I tried, but I can't keep my promise. Even if I could go back, not one of the water bugs would know me in my new body. I guess I'll just have to wait until they become dragonflies too. Then they'll understand what happened to me, and where I went.

And the dragonfly winged off happily into its wonderful new world of sun and air."

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