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Help to explain death to nearly 6 year old.

(20 Posts)
Whattodowhattodooo Sat 25-Apr-20 11:10:39

Just waiting on a phone call from my Nan's care home. It's not going to be a nice one.

How on earth am I going to explain things to my DD? She loves her great nanny and until lockdown saw her atleast once or twice a week. I just don't know where to even start 😢

OP’s posts: |
Shouldbedoing Sat 25-Apr-20 11:13:40

I'm sorry about your Nan. Does DD know she's ill. She must be aware of deaths happening at the moment?

PumpkinP Sat 25-Apr-20 11:17:45

Does she not know about it already? Mine is 6 he knows that people die and when they do they don’t come back.

Smellbellina Sat 25-Apr-20 11:19:07

Just tell her, cry with her and be there for her. If she asks any questions answer them truthfully but kindly.

Quitthat Sat 25-Apr-20 11:20:24

We have mainly gone down the bodies get old and tired and stop working route.

Always emphasising very old, as my kids think I'm old, and I don't want them panicking that I'm going to die soon...

We talk about other things that get worn out, and say it's a bit like that with bodies.

My husband is a christian, so he also talks about the person going to a better place and getting a new body, and we can see them again one day - though I leave those bits to him. I sometimes talk about the person living on in the way we remember them and talk about them etc.

I remember being told NEVER to say the person had fallen asleep and wouldn't wake up, as it can make sleep a terrifying prospect.

I think its not easy, but better to be quite factual with little kids, and answer questions as honestly as is appropriate (obviously leaving out details of suffering if applicable). Too much "cute" - they become stars/ angels I think is not helpful to their understanding of the facts of life.

I am so sorry that you're facing this sad sorry about your Nan flowers

80sMum Sat 25-Apr-20 11:22:51

I think the best policy is to tell her the truth, in a simple way that she will understand. Don't use euphemisms and, unless you truly believe it yourself, don't tell her that nana's gone to heaven or gone to be with Jesus etc as that will only confuse matters.

Twattergy Sat 25-Apr-20 11:23:50

Be really honest. Approach I've taken with DS with 2 bereavements (when he was aged 7 and 8) has been along lines of 'they were old/got ill and their body stopped working' and 'life is wonderful but the hardest thing in life is when a person dies because we feel sad and we miss them. But they stsy in our minds and memories and we can enjoy remembering them.' That kind of thing. I don't like the 'theyve gone to heaven' or 'they are up in the sky' stuff because I think that is v scary to a child. So I've been v honest and talked about how the body gets put in the ground and becomes part of nature again. As you can tell I'm not religious and I prefer to take a fact based approach. Also talking about it a lot and saying is is normal to feel sad really helps. You'll be surprised at how brilliantly kids can process this as long as you remain open and honest with them. Good luck and my condolences if you do experience this loss.

Ceara Sat 25-Apr-20 11:29:02

I'm so sorry.

The Child Bereavement Trust and Winston's Wish both have excellent information on their websites about children's understanding of death at different ages/stages of development and advice about how to have those conversations with them (whether when someone is not expected to live, or after a death). I found both really helpful when my FIL died suddenly last year. DS was 5 then too.

Always and Forever by Alan Durant was a gentle, age appropriate story which helped DS. It avoids euphemisms, and gives a positive message that it is OK to feel sad right now but that we can enjoy our happy memories of the person.

Lougle Sat 25-Apr-20 11:30:30

At this age, I think focus on facts and keep them simple. 'Great Nanny was very poorly. Doctors try to help people who are poorly, but sometimes they are too poorly and the doctors can't help them. When someone's body stops working, they die. It's very sad for the people who love them.'

Whattodowhattodooo Sat 25-Apr-20 11:33:53

Thanks for all your suggestions. Whilst not particularly religious I'm thinking going down the nanny has gone to heaven (I like to think there is something there). Don't know whether she will understand the never seeing her again though 😔

OP’s posts: |
Ceara Sat 25-Apr-20 11:35:39

Little things it helped me and DH to know/be reminded of, is that little ones puddle jump grief so don't think they aren't sad or upset if they don't immediately show a response eg react to the news with "Oh. Ok. Can I go and play now?". Secondly, not to be afraid to let children see you are grieving and sad (but prepare them for that so they're not taken by surprise). Third, to be prepared for a LOT of circular, repetitive conversations and questions. We were open and honest and answered everything though it pays to check, maybe with another question, that you know exactly what they're asking and aren't going beyond the detail or information that's actually been requested.

JustAboutHoldingItIn Sat 25-Apr-20 11:39:10

My daughter is 5. She is just coming into having an awareness of death. I told her it is when our bodies stop working and nobody can make it better. I don't fluff about with it. I don't even say it's when people get old.

JustAboutHoldingItIn Sat 25-Apr-20 11:40:50

Sorry, I just totally skipped that this is about a family member. I'm so sorry. I have had the same thoughts about my own grandmother and I think I would just soften it and talk about grief the way a PP suggested as well thanks

AlwaysColdHands Sat 25-Apr-20 11:44:46

There’s a good book called Badgers Parting Gifts, about what lost ones have left us. It’s lovely.

Laurie01 Sat 25-Apr-20 11:45:10

Prepare her a little now by telling her she is poorly and tell her you want to keep her updated with what's going on, no matter how young, children appreciate honesty. Perhaps get some photos together. Share stories.

WitchDancer Sat 25-Apr-20 11:54:06

I second the book Badger's Parting Gifts, which helped my kids when their grandad passed away. I believe there is a Meg and Mog book that's good too.

Twattergy Sat 25-Apr-20 12:14:16

A good thing is also to ask questions. With heaven you can say something like 'some people believe people go to heaven and others don't, what do you think?' Have a conversation and let her have her own thoughts on it. Chatting over all aspects of it will really help. I think adults feel the heaven thing is nicer/kinder for kids but I think there are lots of options to explore.

PineappleDanish Sat 25-Apr-20 12:17:34

Whatever you do don't tell her that someone has gone to sleep and won't wake up again.

We did the "sometimes when people get very old or very sick the doctors can't help them any more. Yes it's sad and yes it's OK to be upset but let's remember the good times".

ElizaCrouch Sat 25-Apr-20 12:21:14

I would be honest. Explain what's happening in simple but honest terms. Don't be tempted to lie. Unless you actually believe in heaven and it's part of your religion then I would just say some people believe, some people don't, and ask where she thinks people go. Open up a conversation.
Waterbugs and dragonflies is a good book to explain death to youngsters.

mummymeister Sat 25-Apr-20 12:23:53

we have the Mog book about Mog's death and it did really help. we are also christians and have one called "when granny moved house" about the death of a grandparent. you have to be 100% honest and factual and not dress it up in any way. you also have to expect them to be upset and grieve in their own way. we also tried to do positive stuff like using photos to talk about the happier times.

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