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Sayd_Whater's avatar

How to tell two boys of 6 and 4 years old about death and the lost of their grandmother?

Asked by Sayd_Whater (391 points ) November 10th, 2012

This was a shock for everyone in this family.
She left her parents, husband, child and grandchild, who were really close to her still very young grandmother… I feel deply for this family grief and I know they are still wondering how they are going to tell their young kids about this terrible news.
There’s nothing I can do and I couldn’t even find the strength to say anything to them directly, but I wish I could help this family out with some good advice from fluther.

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6 Answers

snowberry's avatar

As for how do you tell a small child, I don’t know. Maybe say that her body stopped working, and that she is not here anymore. I have seen secular and religious books for children and adults from various traditions out there that help people deal with death.

It helps everyone if they can collect mementos and pictures of things they loved to do with the loved one. Tell jokes they liked to tell, go on walks or drives that they loved to do, etc. It also might help to create a scrapbook so these memories won’t be lost.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

Give the kids the truth and explain life and death. @snowberry ‘s scrapbook idea was right on. Memories are some of our most precious possessions.

Dsg's avatar

I have 2 little ones…8 and 5.5 yr old boys. They lost their grandmother and grandfather about 2 yrs ago. I was honest with them. I kept it brief and just explained that they were sick and that they went to heaven. I explained to them about their sickness. (ex. Their grandmother had Emphasema and had trouble breathing and that it became painful). We say prayers just about every night and pray for their grandparents. I lighten the prayers up by saying something about what that grandparent enjoyed doing (ex. their grandfather loved to fish. So I say in the prayer that I hope Grandaddy Jack catches his big fish today up in heaven). Around the time that they died, I read a couple books that dealt with death. @snowberry there are a lot of great books out there for children about death. My boys also have pictures of their grandparents and I answer questions any time they have a question about why they got sick. I try and keep the getting sick part very basic, so that they don’t think too much about it. (Like when they get sick, I don’t want them to worry that they will die because they are sick). Hope this helps and wasn’t too confusing to understand.

Shippy's avatar

Well death is a fact of life, it also comes in odds ways, sometimes sudden, sometimes not. I would tell them, then follow their leads, by answering their questions and not adding to or making answers to questions they haven’t yet asked. I think it is the finality of death that is so scary. But people do live on, their blood flows through our veins, we carry their mannerisms, they little idiosyncrasies. Perhaps explain too that death is a short period of time, that that persons life was long and filled with laughter, tears and life. So one should celebrate their life.

marinelife's avatar

Here is a web site that explains how to handle this very difficult situation.

Unbroken's avatar

I think we underestimate children’s resilience and ability to be pragmatic. IMO if you hand them the truth and keep the conversation open, answer their questions as best you can and if you don’t have the answers be willing to admit it. Ask them their views. And be willing to revisit the topic should they have additional interest in exploring the topic. Also I third the notion of snowberry’s memento’s and pictures. The loss of a member of the family doesn’t mean their life is irrelevant or that they are an appendage cut off they could still influence the life and family of the living. Think what would Jesus do sort of theory. With or without the biblical undertone. The thought is valid.
I have seen where children have lost their mother before the age where they would remember her. Her grandmother made the vow to keep pictures and her writings to tell her stories about her mother so that her mother would be alive in some intangible way for her. That she would know her.

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