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How do you explan death to a 4 year old?

DH's grandfather might pass. DS is VERY close to him. How can I tell him that his grandpa is no longer with us.?

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Anonymous

Asked by Anonymous at 1:38 PM on Feb. 23, 2010 in Preschoolers (3-4)

Answers (8)
  • well all kids are different. when my grandma passed i took my daughter to the viewing and funeral so she could actually see that grandma was dead my daughter fully understood and it helped her cope......but my sister chose to do the same thing with her daughter and it kind of traumatized her. it depends on your son. either way you have to explain that no person or thing lives forever and that we all have to go when we get old. he may want to see him or he may just understand...most important is make sure you ask him if he has questions and make sure you answer those questions honestly.....death can be hard to deal with but it doesnt have to be made a bad thing...it is a natural thing and should be explained as such.
    cassie_m

    Answer by cassie_m at 1:46 PM on Feb. 23, 2010

  • Say that granpa is old and when people get old they get tired and sick,that we will all get old one day,and when people get old they have to go to their real home to be with jesus and that place is called heaven,when you get there you wont be old no more and you cant get sick no more because you are forever happy,and you stay there forever and wait for all your loved ones to come.Once your there your family cant see you again for a while,and the family gets sad and they cry at times but at the same time they are happy because they know that if grandpa is there he is happy and not sick anymore,and he actually is waiting for the rest of the family to get there.
    BUSYLOVINGHIM

    Answer by BUSYLOVINGHIM at 1:46 PM on Feb. 23, 2010

  • we are religious so i tell her about God... my DD is four and i just tell her that her granny's body was just old and sick and it hurt all the time so she is going to be with God and he will give her a new wonderful body and we will all be together soon.....We should be happy for granny and know that Granny is feeling all better waiting on us.... we miss her so much and sometimes its ok to cry and tell God you miss your granny but we will see her one day. and that's it she is pretty satisfied w/ that answer.
    Armywife510

    Answer by Armywife510 at 1:51 PM on Feb. 23, 2010

  • When my ds was 4 my mother, who he was extremely close to, passed away. Before she passed we allowed him to call her on the phone and tell her he loved her. We didn't let him go see her because she looked so differently than before. My son had previously been exposed to talks about heaven because my first son, his brother passed away before my ds was born. We explained to him that grandma had went to heaven to be with Cody. We also explained that he could talk to her anytime he wanted and she would hear him. These are just our beliefs, not necessarily others. We gave him the option of seeing her at the visitation but he chose not to and we did not force the issue. Now that he is 6 he still misses grandma but he seems to have dealt with it as well as any little boy can. He picks out one star in the sky each evening and calls it grandma's star. :)
    momof2il

    Answer by momof2il at 1:54 PM on Feb. 23, 2010

  • When my Mom passed my son was 3, almost 4 and I took him to the wake. He wanted to know why Grandma wouldn't wake up so I told him she went to live at Gods house, he wanted to know what it looked like so I told him it was the most beautiful house, and it was so big that everyone that went there had their own room, and they were all healthy again. I told him that's where people go when they can't get well here on earth. It might have been a far fetched story to some but it helped my son. He drew her a picture and there was a drawer in the casket that we put all of them from the grandkids.. Hope this helped some.
    MrsLeftlane

    Answer by MrsLeftlane at 1:56 PM on Feb. 23, 2010

  • I would wait until he has actually died to talk about it, in the same way that you would not emphasize to a 4-yr-old the END of some activity which he is enjoying and ruin his ability to live IN the activity. Talking about how grandpa is GOING to die forces the child to think about that INSTEAD of being in touch with the present. That's an unfair burden.
    AFTER a death, I told our kids the truth that I believe, only I couched it in childish imagery. ... that grandpa had been living and working with the angels in heaven before he came to live here and grow up on earth, be my daddy and be their grandpa ( and other details of the person's life which are familiar to the children). Now grandpa finished all the things he was doing here, and the angels were very happy to have him back again. And he loves us so much that he is interested to see what we are doing in our lives.

    We'd talk a bit to grandpa in the weeks / months after.
    waldorfmom

    Answer by waldorfmom at 1:59 PM on Feb. 23, 2010

  • I have a 3 1/2 year old son cody, and our very close friend (pretty much the only "grandparent" he knows, annie passed away this christmas. we took him to see her everyday while she was home, and even though she was very sick and on oxygen it didn't bother him he still lived on her and rubbed her back. he didn't know anything was wrong with her, although once she went to the icu my husband and i stayed with her, but we chose to leave him home, and let him remember her happy and concience. when she passed i told him happy things about her going to see jesus for his birthday. and living in heaven, where it's always warm and happy... as we live in alaska:) we took him to her memorial and gave him pictures. He fully understands shes gone now. this was wonderful for him. I remember going to my grandmothers funeral when i was young and to this day my last memory of her is cold and swollen, and you forget the 'HAPPY" images.
    babycodysmama

    Answer by babycodysmama at 2:01 PM on Feb. 23, 2010

  • well, if you're religious you could take that approach, but here is what i tell my kids (i also talk about heaven, etc. but it would work just as well without that part). i tell them that things that are alive don't last forever..... some things are alive for a long time and some things are alive for a short time, but everything is alive for a reason. sometimes when people's (or animals) bodies get hurt or sick they don't work so well anymore and even medicine can't make them better again. so then they will die and their body will go away for ever and they will not be able to move anymore. but there is a special part of them that can never ever die and that part of them we keep in our heart. everytime you think about them and all the fun times you spent together, that's the special part of them that can't die. and also take him to spend time with his grandpa while he's alive even if he's bad off
    princessbeth79

    Answer by princessbeth79 at 9:21 PM on Feb. 23, 2010

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