Explaining Death to Children – The Unexpected Conversation at Dinner

There are so many different conversations that take over my dinner table, some that are just plain old crazy talk and others that have me questioning the words exploding from my children’s mouths. Dinner is a time we sit and get all those pesky thoughts out so at bed time we can rest with settled minds, but the conversation at my dinner table tonight was one of those no parent is ever truly prepared for.

Fellow Parent Dies on Weekend lilyflower

We received a saddening letter about the sudden death of one of the parents in our small local community. A parent of a child in one of my children’s classes. A parent that wasn’t too well known but her children are good friends with mine. A parent that I know is going to be very missed by her three children. It was shocking news to hear about from both my children. They are a newer family to our small town, only lived here for a year now. In the past year my children and her children became friends; having classes and such together it was bound to happen. At first I didn’t understand what my children were talking about, if it was another one of their crazy stories they put together as they’ve done in the past. Death is a fascination to both as they are very interested in heaven and their Great Grandma that watches over them. I didn’t believe them at first, but upon opening their agendas a note fell out. A note confirming the tragic heart wrenching event.

Explaining Death to Children

Sitting down explaining death to children can be hard. It is something my children have experienced several times so they surprisingly understand it very well. They understand when we pass we become angels and look out for the ones we love. They also understand that death is a sad thing and it is okay to cry. Some families teach different things surrounding death, I personally like the idea of an angel protecting me as we all can use a little added protection sometimes. For being young, they are very supportive to those dealing with the passing of a loved one. When my Grandma passed, they held my hand tightly and wiped my tears away, they were only 4 & 5 at the time. They kept me going everyday and always remind me she is watching over us. Sometimes I am thankful that they understand that the best way to be there for someone is simply just being there for them. Explaining death can be hard. It is something we’ve always talked about openly within my home because sadly death can be sudden. It was however very unexpected tonight to learn such sad news. We quickly sat together, talked about it and ways we are going to be supportive to the family left behind, their friends. They know not to sit and bug, ask lots of questions and in the end just push the emotional barriers beyond necessary. Instead, just be a friend. Hang out, talk about what their friends want to talk about and just be there. The school has brought in the Crisis Response Team to of course discuss the situation more with the children in the classes to better prepare every student. Our small community always pulls together at times like these and it is a sad day for the family.

What are ways you’ve discussed death with children in your home and helped your children be more comfortable with the lose of someone they know, both pets & people?

Comment (1)

  • I love your explanation! We haven’t had any deaths other than the in-laws dog but that was hard too. He still breaks down saying how he misses her and wants to know when she’s coming back and why she died! We tell him that she’s up in heaven with the other dog but that they watch over us. I try to explain that death is a part of life and sometimes people/pets are very sick or very old and that’s the result. We also let him know that crying and feeling sad/hurt is completely normal. I also let him know how it made me feel when I lost my grandmother and my best friend (Shepherd) and how I deal/dealt with it.

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