4 year old obsessed with death(8 Posts)
My 4 year old has recently 'discovered' that people die and is getting very upset about it. Bit of background - split from her dad earlier this year and the separation has been hard on her, she has an anxious personality anyway and struggling to come to terms with having 'two houses'.
At least once or twice a day she bursts into tears and cries about 'I don't want you to die'. I've tried explaining to her that it won't happen for a very long time, we have a happy life and we should enjoy it but it doesn't seem to help her.
I don't know what else to say to her really or where to get advice. Help?
I think 4 is often an age when children first come to terms with the enormity of death. Some understand it and are more frightened of it than others. I think you just have to give it time and keep on saying what you were saying.
My ds1 was most interested in what happens after death (I said I didn't know but told him what others believed) - he mostly wasn't too concerned. My ds2 was very upset and it still upsets him now but not as often. The only thing I found that helped a bit was telling him that I loved him, would always love him and neither my death nor his could ever change that. That love never dies.
No real advice. But DS, 5 , just went through a phase like this, over a rabbit I had as a child. He wanted to meet him and was very upset when I explained that he died a long time ago.
Then for a while afterwards, we had occasional teary outbursts of- Do humans die? I don't want you to die! Do humans come back to life? I don't want to die! I explained as best I could and the phase has now passed (I think!). Maybe about 3 months of on and off worrying.
It's some big knowledge to have to get used to I suppose!
I haven't had the "What happens after" question, maybe I should prepare some responses...
My dd1 was like this. To the point I used to dread anyone mentioning anything about death or someone who had died just in case she asked about them now, and I had to say they had died because it would start a whole series of questions and worries.
Then this year dd2 was stillborn at 40+5 (dd1 was 5) and I have learned a lot since then.
My advice: if you can, get a little pet with a short life expectancy. Luckily a few weeks before dd2 died, the hamster died (well not luckily but you know what I mean) it gave the dc's and experiance of death and grief in a safe envioronment. They saw the little body and buried it in a way that they wanted. It helped massively when it came to dealing with the death of their tiny and much waited for sister. They had had months of playing with her in my tummy and had bonded so well.
When dd2 died they all chose to see and hold her and coped remarkably well, same with the funeral. In the funeral home, just before we left, they had to put the lid on her little coffin and screw it down. I was finding the prospect upsetting, as you can imagine, but I was also very worried for them. The funeral director came and explained to them what they were going to do, and why in a very honest manner, then asked the children if they would like to help. They jumped at the chance!
Two weeks later the fish died and I felt like I was going to make their little worlds cave in by bringing another death into our lives. I told them honestly and simply that the fish had died and gave them a choice between burial and flushing and the children decided to flush the fish, and after all of the trauma we had been through almost was a little bit funny.
The biggest lesson that I have learnt through advice from professionals etc is to be very honest. We all die when our bodies stop working. Mostly that happens when we are very old, but sometimes it happens to young people too if they are very ill or have been badly hurt. When we die we don't need our bodies anymore so we return them to the ground (burial) or the air (cremation) and our souls, stick to what you believe in your family. I was advised that children are much more frightened of the things they make up in their minds when they try to fill in the gaps. I was advised not to tell them 'not to worry' becuase they will and if you have asked them not to, then they'll just stop confiding in you when the need comfort becuase you have already told them not to.
There are lots of lovely children's books which deal with death Badgers Parting Gift was one that comes to mind and Always and Forever. Both are lovely and give the message that even when the body is gone, the spirit lives on through the lovely memories we have of them and what they have taught us.
I hope it helps, and your little one becomes less consumed with worry. Despite all we have been through the past year, I think dd1 is less worried now than she was this time last year. She still has her moments but they tend to be more sadness about her baby sister than anything else
Thanks for the posts. 3littlebadgers your story is very sad and touching at the same time.
I like the 'love never dies' concept too. Need to focus on that I think. I'm just worried that the year we've had has affected DD so much her anxiety is coming out in ways like this.
Try and get Gentle Willow... great book to explain it
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