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Explaining death to 3 year old - help

(5 Posts)
Magscat Fri 08-Apr-05 11:16:58

My 3 (nearly 4) year old has just started asking questions about family relationships and we've told him he had a Grandad who died before he was born. This led to inevitable questions about death e.g. Why do people die? Where do we go to when we die?. His Dad & I have tried reassuring him that it's not likely to happen to him any time soon and that it happens when you get really old or very very poorly. I think he has made the connection with getting older or getting ill and is now scared of both no matter how much we tell him a cold won't kill him nor will having another birthday. Also because we are not religious we have said that no-one really knows what happens after death but that some people believe you come back as another creature or person and some people believe in Heaven and some people believe you're just gone. I think we've made a pig's ear of it but I don't know what I can say that will be at least mostly truthful but not scare him. He just cried and said he didn't want to be 'gone' and could he come back as himself. Any suggestions for dealing with the reality in a way that offers some comfort but is not religious and not an outright lie?

JanH Fri 08-Apr-05 11:22:56

There have been threads about this before, Magscat - I think most children go through this stage to one degree or another - yours has hit it a bit early I think which makes it harder to explain.

Have a look at this thread - lots of helpful comments and some book recommendations.

JanH Fri 08-Apr-05 11:28:21

another one

Papillon Fri 08-Apr-05 11:30:17

Perhaps using associations in nature might be help.Spring has arrived, show him the new buds and leaves on the trees that go and come again each year. And a persons life is like that. To live we must die. And to look at how beautiful the new flowers are. That the flowers are alive because the leaves died to give them food. Life is a big circle and there is no end.

maybe get him to look at the this picture and tell him that inside us all is a heart and LOVE no matter whether we are young and old.

Blu Fri 08-Apr-05 11:41:34

DS is about the same age as yours, Magscat, and we are going through exactly the same thing triggered by a rather enthusiastic (I felt) explanation of the Easter story at nursery!

I have tried to be as matter of fact about it as possible, and not linked death too firmly to old age or illness. I have said it happens to all of us at some stage, and that it won't matter because when we're dead we won't know about it. It will be just like before we were born. He has asked a lot of questions like 'will you still love me when you're dead' and I say 'of course - I won't be here to tell you that I love you, but I will be in your heart and you will know that I love you always'.

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