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Gravestones - how to best explain to a 5 yo? (No-one's died)

(8 Posts)
Portofino Wed 16-Sep-09 18:44:25

Sorry - not a very cheery subject!

Dd's new is on the same road as a large cemetery, and I parked the car today opposite the Memorial Masons. They have a huge range of marble plinths and headstones outside. "Ooh look" says DD " Aren't these pretty? I like that one there with a heart on! What are they for?"

I w a bit taken aback. I suppose I never thought of headstones being "pretty" before, but I can see they were all beautifully made and shining in the sun. Being a believer in being honest with dd, I told her that they were called headstones, and that when someone has died the family write their name and a message on one so that they will always remember them.

She seemed to accept this, though looked a bit pensive in the car afterwards. As we are likely to be walking past often I want to best prepare myself for future questions....She hasn't experienced anyone dying yet so the question hasn't come up, and in reality, if/when it does happen I guess a cremation will be more likely than a burial.

Any advice is gratefully appreciated.

luckylady74 Wed 16-Sep-09 18:51:59

I have explained all of that to my 4 yr old twins and there's been no problem. It came up because my dad died before they were born and as we talk about him a lot they wanted to know what happened when he died.
I did shy away from the fire part of cremation because they're scared of fire so I said a machine turns you into dust.
I'm an atheist so I said then we become part of the sky/earth whatever, but you put in whatever you believe I suppose.I said my dad's not here anymore, but there's a little bit of him in all of us - ds2's eyes and dd1's humour- that to me is how people live on.
I think if you're matter of fact it helps them accept death as part of life -something I think we're a bit embarassed about in Britain.

robino Wed 16-Sep-09 18:54:50

I don't really have any advice but I do think that what you said was a great explanation.

What I really wanted to do was to tell you you are not alone. DD1 (2.8) has decided that old-style graves with the headstone and the "border" around the edge are Upsy Daisy's bed and is very excited when we walk through our local churchyard grin

AnathemaDevice Wed 16-Sep-09 19:56:14

Just make sure you explain it better than my mum did to my brother when he was about 4.
He asked what the graves were in the churchyard, and she explained that when someone dies their body gets put in the ground. He thought about this for a moment and asked, if the body is in the ground, what happens to the head?

barbarianoftheuniverse Wed 16-Sep-09 20:09:30

We live very near a small old graveyard. We called them 'memory stones' and made no mention of what was underneath.
(Felt very smug about this until the graveyard was landscaped. Then discovered dcs and friends sitting in an agog and hopeful line on the wall longing for a glimpse of decomposing corpse.)

Portofino Wed 16-Sep-09 20:51:24

barbarian! LOL! I guess little ones cope with this stuff much better than we give them credit for!

I know I have warned dd about the danger of things like plug sockets/plastic bags/things round the neck - tonight she said to me somehting about if you stuck your fingers in the plug socket you would drop down dead! I'm sure i've NEVER said this (and i think the continental elec system is generally less hazardous). But still.

My mum died when i was small. I remember it being a great comfort that I believed that she was in heaven and watching over me all the time. When I got to about 13 I wasn't at all comfortable with that idea!

Northumberlandlass Thu 17-Sep-09 07:53:41

Sadly we have quite a few close family members and I have a few friends who have died. I find the cemetry a very calming and reflectful place to be and regularly walk to our local one.
I used to go there a lot when DS was a baby in his pram, now he is 6 and we go every few months. DS helps wash down my GP headstone and we always end up talking about it.

DS can handle the truth about why they are there, he is aware that the bodies are underneath. I haven't discussed cremation yet.

The one thing that did cause misunderstanding was that DS thought you went to the cemetery to die (ie you thought you felt poorly, you went to the cemetery and lay on the ground, then you died). I guess I never explained it that well !!!!

MrsMagnolia Thu 17-Sep-09 10:59:13

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

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