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Thursday, March 27, 2008

Helping Kids Deal With Death

The time comes in every parent's life when we must explain to our children what it means for someone to die. It is never an easy topic to discuss. I find myself in this unpleasant position today as my husband's step-grandmother will be passing away very soon. My dear Kira and Marisa have both known and loved their Granny from the very beginning of their lives. She was their willing ride, waiting to wheel them around in her chair. She has been the blessing in disguise who could gently rock them to sleep without their ever suspecting the end result of her gentle movements because, after all, they were in her chair and not a bed.

Now, she is the mortal reality that has forced me to explain to my oversensitive 3 year old that Granny is dying and what that means for our family. As I find myself in this position so soon in her life, I found myself searching for the best advice on explaining death to children.

What I know is this:

Never tell a child that death is like going to sleep because the child will equate sleep with death and then fear sleep.

Never tell a child that someone died from sickness. If you do, your child will fear each sickness and ask if this is when they, too, will die.

Truth is always best. Explaining death to children is simple when the person dying is very old. The death of a younger person is not so easy. Yet truth is the simplest explanation that can ever be given.

So to my dear Kira, I find myself saying that death is simply one more part of life. It is an absolute certainty in life that death will come.

It is important to tailor the explanation to the child. Kira is young enough to lack full comprehension of death, though she does understand that death is final. She senses the tension in the people around her. She sees her Granny in bed and unable to respond. She knows that Granny is dying. She knows she doesn't like this dying.

If you find yourself needing to explain death to your child, you can find more detailed information at KidsHealth or Kid's Turn Central.


SoccerMom said...

I told my son that God needed to have his grandpa come home to heaven. We told him grandpa was old and had a happy life and that he was very luck to have grandpa in his life and that grandpa was lucky to have him. And he was really okay with that. Prayers and blessings to you and yours. make sure the kids know that Granny will always be in their hearts.

Sunshine said...

Well, I guess I am a mom from what it sounds like. I really enjoyed your blog. Thanks for your comments.

Mom said...

Granny passed away Sunday night, around 1:00 AM.