Preparing a 4yo for a bereavement(9 Posts)
My friends 4yo is very close to her great grandma but unfortunately she has found out she only has weeks to live. Does anyone have any advice or know of any good literature to explain/prepare a child so young for a loss that is going to affect her quite greatly?
Thanks very much in advance x
For a four year old (and the death of an elderly person) I think the book 'Badger's Parting Gifts' will explain things beautifully (I would post pictures but unfortunately it's in the cupboard in my bedroom and OH has just gone to bed after night shift)
Invaluable info on here
All sorts of books and info on bereavement for children
I'm so sorry.
I know it isn't the same, obviously, but my parents dog died recently. DS is 3.5 and very close to it.
My friend works with children and did some training on dealing with and explaining death, she said important thing is:
Say 'they have died', not 'gone to sleep' (otherwise they might worry that they will go to sleep and not wake up or you might)
So we said 'ddog was very poorly, the vet tried really hard to make her better but he couldn't, and she died.' 'When people die some people might feel sad or cry, when you see nanny and grandad they might feel sad. You might feel sad too.'
Sorry, I know it is not the same, but the same principles apply in the wording I think.
Thanks so much for your help ladies. It's such a difficult situation because you want to protect children but you can't shelter them from everything either. Thanks very much again I will pass over your tips/titles x
Along with the feeling sad and crying as normal, I'd also say it's also ok to feel happy and laugh and have fun if they want.
I didn't want my DSs feel like they had to be sad all the time and that it was wrong to smile and laugh at such an awful time.
It took my 4yo a long time to grasp that died was the same as dead. I used the word dead in one of my darkest rants and he was so upset as he hadn't realised. So your friend might need to use different words to be the message to sink in.
A child close to me was bereaved - she was a bit older but when I was looking for suggestions the same sort of things applied, especially in being really clear about dying not going to sleep, and really clear that they are not coming back. It might seem harsh to us but it's better than the child misunderstanding and expecting to see them again.
If great grandma is not too ill to do this, the child or an adult could ask her some questions about her childhood (eg what were her favourite games/people/foods, did she have a pet) and then record the answers on a dictaphone - this might be a nice thing to look back on?
They could make a 'memory box' i.e. decorate a shoebox and put in it photos/child's drawing of great grandma/other things that will remind them of great grandma in it. eg put in a wooden spoon if she does a lot of cooking. Then it's a positive activity that will keep the child busy (especially at a time when adults around them are distressed) and will also remind them of positive memories. Let the child do the decorating etc themselves rather than focusing on making it 'perfect'.
DD was a bit younger when my mum died, but a lot of the same things applied. She was very close to Mum and we lost her very quickly after diagnosis, so there was a lot of shock and distress around.
As well as what PPs have suggested - being clear that it's not the same as going to sleep or "going away", saying that it's normal to feel sad (and also happy) - I was given the excellent advice to keep repeating that DH and I weren't going anywhere, which helped.
People were quite shocked that I brought DD to the funeral, but I think it helped both of us (and Mum would have been horrified if I'd kept DD away from it!).
Other nice books are Goodbye Mog and Waterbugs and Dragonflies.
Otherwise good advice above. Children this age are often v matter of fact about death as long as you're clear with them.
Also may help that in this situation GGM is presumably quite old, so although sad it is within the normal rhythm of life iyswim
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