Explaining death to a 6 year old

Discussion in 'Et Cetera, Et Cetera' started by MidwestGal, Mar 3, 2008.

  1. MidwestGal

    MidwestGal Member

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    So, I told my son about his great grandpa after school and that grandma and mommy were sad. He doesn't quite get the concept lets say. I told him great grandpa went away and he wouldn't be back other than in good memories before trying the religious way out. My son just blurted out the following before I got to far into my explaination ....."What did he get lost and why?" I have to say I chuckled a bit (as I am sure grandpa was) then went on to explain.

    Not sure he quite gets it or will for some time but that was just too funny. I'm trying to keep to the lighter stuff today and enjoy good memories!
     
  2. ManlyBanisters

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    And kids are so cool at saying just the right thing without even knowing it :smile: - I'm glad he made you chuckle - I think that's wonderful.

    I'm sure he will come to realise what has happened and I know you and your mother will guide him through as gently as you can.
     
  3. D_Gunther Snotpole

    D_Gunther Snotpole Account Disabled

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    I remember when my mother died, I heard my niece, then four, ask my brother when Grandma would be back.
    And he said, "She won't, dear. She's with the angels now."
    She just looked puzzled and said, "Oh."
    Funny moment ... her incomprehension was beautiful and shattering.
     
  4. jason_els

    jason_els <img border="0" src="/images/badges/gold_member.gi

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    I think it best to be direct with children. Show them a tree or flower or animal that has died, take them to the cemetery. It's tough to do but ultimately helps them work out the truth of what happened. Direct does not mean ungentle, but truthful. If you have religious views of an afterlife it's also important to express them at the time, taking pains to explain that the body and the soul are different things. Sometimes couching death in euphemisms creates confusions. I'd be careful with the whole lost thing. If, sometime later, an object, pet, or person is lost it could trigger some very deep anxieties in your child without meaning to. It must be emphasized that great-grandpa isn't lost. If your child seems to be having a lot of issues with this and you are religious, then perhaps speaking to a member of your clergy with the child can help. You can use this as an opportunity to relate what church/temple is all about in relation to death.
     
  5. IntoxicatingToxin

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    My son was almost five when my mother passed away. He was the same way. He didn't really get it until we were at the funeral, and that's when it hit him. A few weeks after the funeral, he asked me if I had Jesus' phone number. I said no, and asked why, and he said that he wanted to call Jesus so he could talk to grandma.
     
  6. Northland

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    I was introduced to the concept of life and its counterpart of death at an early age. I don't know when the first death took place; but, by the age of 5, I had a grasp of what it was. My mother was always very blunt and would just say the person or animal in question was dead. I was told by someone (though I can not recall who) that death, being dead, was the end of the life cycle. People, animals, plants all die.

    My grandfather (yes, him again), talked to me about life and how we are here to experience things and learn things but only for a short time. How much time will be different for each living creature and we should do our best during our time since it could all be over at any moment. He droned on about cycles and somehow I understood it.


    Clearly, I did not come from a family which danced around death. Several years ago when my sister's cat died, she had to explain it to her daughter who was at school. My niece came home and my sister told the little one that the cat had gone to sleep for the last time. That seemed to be enough. A year later her grandfather died-she was about 7 at the time- she was sad; but understood that he would not be back. She even voiced it a few weeks later by saying she missed Grampa J___ and was sad that he died but knew he was in a good place now.

    Each child is different; but, give them credit for having a wisdom which will grasp fully the idea of life and death-a full and complete cycle. Be ready to answer a lot of questions in the next few weeks.
     
  7. Drifterwood

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    I think kids deal with death better than we do, in that they do not have the same consciousness of their own mortality. I think our own grief is a blend of our longer experience of the person gone and our knowledge of our own impending demise.

    Kids just have to deal with the fact that someone they love isn't going to be around anymore, and the memories of that person seem to give them a more complete comfort than we can have.

    Often I have seen kids comforting adults in their grief. We have something to take back from them in this respect, and be grateful.
     
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