Talking about death to a 5 year old- help(14 Posts)
DD who is nearly 5 was talking to DH at bedtime, asking how old we would be when she was 40 (Our ages). She then starts hysterically crying saying we will die before her and she'll be on her own in the house with no one to cuddle 😢
It's broke my heart trying to explain how she'll have her own family and we're not going anywhere etc etc as well as me explaining that God will look after her and be with her all the time (I'm Christian, DH isn't).
She hasn't accepted it and I don't think I've explained it well.
She'll be an only child and she knows this and is fixated on the fact we're going to die before her and leave her.
Any words of advice? What can I say to reassure her?
She's currently whimpering in bed whilst I nipped out of her bedroom for a wee!
God doesn't cuddle or do any of the things you do .
Reassure her that you will be here for a long long time and live to a hundred. Yes, I know you can't guarantee that, but the odds are she'll be old enough to understand when the time comes.
When this happened with mine I got them on to thinking about what sort if house they would like when older. Then they started thinking about what pets they could choose and that cheered them up and they forgot about the topic of conversation
Where did she get the idea in the first place, seems a bit young to me, who is telling her you are going to die?
God isn't a replacement parent, she has never seen or spoken to him, I imagine this might be one of the things that is upsetting her. You are saying you are going and this stranger she have never met will look after her, which is quite frightening.
When I had this situation (a little different) I implied I would be around for a hundred years and to them that is forever. I talked about being there for their children and grandchildren. I explained every hug I give her stays with her forever, it doesn't go away. I will be eternally in her mind and that will never change.
The next time she brought it up I acted perplexed and said you weren't upset about this ten years ago, she thought about it and worked out that she wasn't born then, to which I replied, its the same as that. And then I distracted her read a new story and after a few weeks it was forgotten.
I was rushing my OP and did talk about my mum and my grandparents still being here and she would have her own children, and she stopped hysterically crying then.
margarita I've used your suggestion about having her own house and that's really helped thank you. She's flat our asleep now.
peach I have no idea where she's got this from. I wanted to probe but it wasn't the right time. God to an infant just doesn't make sense, and I knew as soon as I said it, it was the wrong thing. I'll steer clear. She really liked me telling her that my mum had this same discussion when I was young and she told me I too would have a family and I have now (as I'd got her).
Thanks everyone, MN to the rescue during a time of crisis!
Hope your DD is ok, its my experience after initial panic it goes away quickly. At that age its just a fudge really.
I suppose she could have got the idea from TV or something. I wouldn't probe for more unless it happens again.
DD gets upset about death occasionally, she's also 4. In the first place she got the idea from animals dying, even insects and things. Talking about pets, she didn't want to get one that would ever die. She also remembers us going to two of her great grandmothers' funerals. And she asks questions about the family so she knows which grandparents are dead.
Like you we talk about us being alive for a long time and being grandparents for her children if she has some. I always offer cuddles, because I remember going through the same stage and only being given books. And we have talked about what some different religions believe about death. We're atheists, but DD is quite taken with the idea of reincarnation. I would try to find a child friendly way of explaining heaven if that's what you believe. Could you not present it as somewhere to be back together with everyone you love rather than emphasizing the god side?
It still scares her when she thinks about it but not every day. She's a super happy child most of the time. They're trying to understand and come to terms with a huge thing. I find they tend to just pop back to the topic and talk round as they gradually build up their understanding.
Blimey - I don't think it is too young. In fact my first thought it that it is pretty old. My 4 and 2yo talk about death quite matter of factly as pets have died etc. They keep asking if old relatives are going to die and we just say, hope not,at least for a while.
We believe in god too, and also say that God will look after us/them and it is his will and plan. That def offers comfort. 4yo was comforting her dgm today saying god was looking after ddog.
So my view would be to be quite matter of fact and don't make it a never spoken of mystery.
Thanks peach, I hope it does go away but I had a horrible fear of death when I was a little girl. It's only gone away as I've got older, looking back my mum didn't talk about it.
catkind thank you for sharing your experience, that's helpful. We've always talked about looking after insects etc. She knows I dislike most of them (spiders in particular) but we never kill things that are living. I even showed her a spiders web the other day on the window outside eating a fly (truly gross but also fascinating!)
poocatcherchamp that's interesting that you say that about your children asking if grandparents are going to die, she has done that previously and understands about death due to one of my grandparents passing away. Another grandparent has been quite poorly earlier in the year resulting in various visits to hospital and she's come with me. It's never scared her when we've discussed it, quite matter of fact actually. She asked me if I missed my DGP who I lost, and I told her I did but knew she was in a happy place in heaven and not in pain. This is all months ago so it's thrown me that she's got so upset to night realising that we will all eventually die.
I dealt with it from a different perspective as a DC has congenital condition that means they will probably die before us. Having met a lot of parents in same situation over the years at children's hospital etc children actually facing death are a lot better at dealing with it. The doctors always told us that children feed off parents and it they aren't scared children will also not be scared. So dont make a big deal about things that secretly scare you stiff and DC will be ok.
Sorry to hear that peach 😢 I hope I never have to explain anything like a terminal illness to her.
My vicar recommended 2 books for when children ask about death (obviously written from a Christian viewpoint):
Will my Rabbit go to heaven?
Waterbugs and Dragonflies
The heart in the bottle by Oliver Jeffers is good too, though a bit different. It's more about how we are enriched by the people we love, even after they die. My five year old really liked the pictures!
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