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How do you explain death to a 3 year old?

My mother in law is on her death bed. How do I explain her death (when it happens) to my 3 yr old who rarely sees her?

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Asked by customcat2000 at 8:10 PM on Jun. 21, 2009 in Preschoolers (3-4)

Level 14 (1,443 Credits)
Answers (7)
  • At three I don't know that I would. I think that it depends on what you and your husband decides is the best way to tell her. If it were my daughter and she did not see her very often I would wait until she was older to explain to her that grandma had died when she was much younger. I do not think at three a child can completely grasp the concept of death.

    Answer by 2-1CavWife at 8:12 PM on Jun. 21, 2009

  • Well i don't know what your belifes are, but my close family member died when my daughter was 3yrs old, and another last yr ( 4yrs old), i simply told her that hes in heaven. I'm not very religous, didn't explain that whole thing. I just kept it simple. " Heaven is in the sky, and now grampy is your angel, we can't see him anymore but we can visit the cemetary. When it thunders out i tell her, "thats grampy playing bowling in the sky."

    so if you are going to tell her, try to keep it simple. At first she was just like "ok mommy", and wasn't very affected, but as the days went by, the questions came. Just remember simple answers. She will be fine its all part of life. Good luck.

    Answer by Iluvmygirlies42 at 8:34 PM on Jun. 21, 2009

  • Thanks for the suggestions. It's really my ex-MIL but I still consider her immediate family. My 3 yr old just hasn't been around her much because she's been sick for the last 5 years.

    Answer by customcat2000 at 9:44 PM on Jun. 21, 2009

  • My FIL has cancer and we are not sure how long he has and we spend a lot of time with him and my MIL. We will be with them for a week on vacation at some cabins. We are not religious and we will tell her that Grampa is all around her in the trees and dirt where we all go when we die. I think heaven is to abstract anyway but this may be comforting to some children I don't recommend saying they are watching over us may be creepy for small children. Look into grief conseling they can help too.

    Answer by Luvmylittlegrl at 10:33 PM on Jun. 21, 2009

  • if you believe in heaven, tell them that MIL is hurting alot, and she needs to go to heaven where she won't hurt anymore. simple answers. this worked for us.

    Answer by jcsmummy at 3:22 AM on Jun. 22, 2009

  • If she barely sees her, will she even know that she's gone? If so, and you are a Christian, then tell her that she had to go live with Jesus. If not a Christian, then just say that she had to take a really long nap. I have used both and they both seem to work.

    Answer by Anonymous at 5:09 AM on Jun. 22, 2009

  • My mother-in-law passed away in February. My daughter was her only grandchild. We never told my daughter, and there hasn't been a need for answers because the questions never really came. When we go to my father-in-laws house my daughter will reference things such as "I will sit in Grandmas chair". She asked once "where is grandma?" and we simply explained "She isn't here anymore" and Liv went about her day...

    Answer by kara_g. at 1:36 PM on Jun. 22, 2009

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