questions about dying from my small child(16 Posts)
My 3 1/2 year old has recently started asking questions about dying. It is obviously worrying him a lot, and he is asking me the same few questions repeatedly throughout the day. It has also coincided with increased separation anxiety.
I am trying toanswer his questions truthfully, but in an age appropriate way, but its really difficult to know what to say. I am obviously not saying anything that is satisfying him because he is still worrying and still asking the same few questions all the time: "how do people die?" "when do people die?" "do people die?"
But does anyone have any advice on how they dealt with this, or any good books that could help?
I think hey all go through this at some stage. I thibk you just need to answer honestly as appropriate. How do people die? Most people die when theyre very elderly and their body can't cope any more. Some people die because they're very ill. Etc.
It is hard
Btw if you do say the "very ill "thing it's worth being quite specific. If you're lucky like us to suffer from colds, coughs and the occasionAl pulled muscle, then that is the range of your child's experience. The most "ill" my children know is very bad cold which I'm grateful for but I don't want them thinking they or we will die from it.
This bit is horrible
I told my children that everyone needs to die one day so there is enough room for new babies so everyone gets a turn which seemed to help.
It is a normal development cycle. I would carry on answering questions calmly. He will move in to something else soon!
My DS is just going through this phase (he's just 4) and I remember DD very clearly at a similar age.
I try to be reassuring and matter of fact. As I don't believe in life after death it can be quite tricky. I don't want to say 'you become a star' or 'we all meet in heaven', so I feel quite harsh. We do talk about 'maybes' though - DD has an active imagination full of maybes.
Ah okay, thank you. All very reassuring! Its a big thing to try and make sense of for a child and hard questions to answer for us. Just part of growing up I suppose. I like the idea of saying we need to make room for the new babies and will be careful talking about illness. Thank you.
I tell DD that 'nothing lasts forever' which I think is useful to internalise, and I compare it to how toys and other things break sometimes. And that when your body doesn't work any more that's when someone dies. I'm not sure whether that's a good way to explain it - and I can imagine it might upset a child who was already anxious about it! It feels like telling the truth though, and they understand about things breaking because they've experienced that. DD seems OK with that explanation so far.
It also gives a context for explaining why it's so important they listen to you about roads and windows! Perhaps a bit harsh, but it has come up!
Similar to strawberry I say that dying is when somebody's body stops working, which usually doesn't happen until they are very very old, and compare to toys which have broken beyond repair.
The mother of one of DS' nursery friends died recently (cancer - children are just turned four) which left him very anxious for a while. After that, we also had to talk around what would happen if I died, in practical terms who would look after him and help him feel better (and who was currently looking after his friend and helping him feel better), and we also talked a lot about remembering people we love even after they've died. DS is always interested in plaques on benches! He's going to get one when my mother dies, apparently - not when I die because he intends that we die at the same time, which is rather heartbreaking really but I don't let him spot that I think so.
It's tough, because ultimately dying sucks. Nobody likes it. Mine weren't so interested in mechanics, more about feelings.
Age appropriate: yes it's a sad thing, the person who dies doesn't feel bad any more, all their bad feelings end. But it's tough for the people left behind who loved them.
My kids are worried about ME dying. So I tell them that it won't happen for a very long time & by the time I die I will be old & they will be almost as old so they won't mind as much. This is weak, but best I can do.
I say, If we didn't have death then we wouldn't have room for all the new people/pets in the world. So the world needs to be like this. We can be sad about it, but glad that we knew someone to love so much.
Dd suffered the loss of her 27 year old aunt when she was 3 1/2. We explained to her that aunt was poorly and most people get better when they are poorly but aunt got so so poorly that she died.
We explained to her that death means she is gone and while we can't see her or talk to her any more we can look at photos and talk about her.
We are atheists so we have used a story book to explain that her body has been put into the ground to help grow the grass but we can go there if we want to put flowers on the grass.
Debbi Gliori's book "No Matter What." Is brilliant. It's more about love than death, but it answers the question underneath, ie will you love me forever, and what happens when you're not here. It doesn't go into the mechanics of dying, but it really helps my children with this worry.
The thing I don't like about 'if we didn't have death then we wouldn't have room for all the new people/pets in the world' is that it's back to front.
Death doesn't really exist in order to make space for people. Isn't it rather that reproduction exists because we aren't immortal?!
I know I'm pedantic
I also worry about DD resenting babies
unlikely given that she adores babies
I remember I was about ten and I was in our caravan watching a film all snuggled up with my dog and the guy in the movie died or something and they said everyone dies. I was heartbroken I ran into the sitting area and asked my mum if it was true she looked at me like I was a 30 year old woman asking it and just said yes of course it's true go back to bed. I was heartbroken still to this day death scares me just be nice about it make sure they don't fear it....
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