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How can I explain death and a funeral to my 8 year old daughter?

I am not sure how much she understands. This is her first death in the family. My brother in law passed and the services start tonight with an open casket viewing. I am hesitating taking her to this. The funeral service will be tomorrow with a short viewing before hand. She will be attending the service itself for sure but what about the viewing?

My sweet sister lost her best friend and my heart is breaking for her. I will be emotional and I just want to say the right thing to my daughter.

 
Noosa

Asked by Noosa at 11:01 AM on Apr. 21, 2010 in Relationships

Level 20 (8,483 Credits)
This question is closed.
Answers (6)
  • just keep it simple, and allow her to ask questions

    avoid statements like "he was sick and the doctor couldn't make him better" because she may fear going to the doctor next time, and "he is sleeping" because it can cause fear of sleep

    She is 8, I'm sure she understands more than you are giving her credit for.
    peanutsmommy1

    Answer by peanutsmommy1 at 11:03 AM on Apr. 21, 2010

  • I would explain to her that it will be very sad because he is no longer with us. His body will be buried but his spirit will be in heaven. Also explain that he will look like he is sleeping. I think it is a good thing for kids to experience death. It is a learning experience.
    ria7

    Answer by ria7 at 11:04 AM on Apr. 21, 2010

  • Watch any Disney movie made before 1979. I'm sure she understands much more than you think. She is 8 not 2. Just be honest with her and don't try to hide your emotions.
    Anonymous

    Answer by Anonymous at 11:06 AM on Apr. 21, 2010

  • At 8, she will understand. Explain that he died, if you have religious beliefs, include those. Let her know what a viewing is ( to pay respect to the body is what I would say)....Explain that the body will be there and what it will look like. Let her know that you are going as a family, and that some people may cry, some people won't, etc.....let her know that whatever she feels is okay....and just take her with you....families need to be together, and death is a reality, even for kids...we don't do our kids any favors by hiding it from them...take care.....(I've been through this, more than once with my kids)
    Anonymous

    Answer by Anonymous at 11:06 AM on Apr. 21, 2010

  • I liked The Lion King movie for helping to explain death. I hear Sesame Street and Katie Couric put together a program for kids about death. I'd talk to prior to going and ask her if she wants to go to the viewing. It can be traumatic for some children.
    admckenzie

    Answer by admckenzie at 11:18 AM on Apr. 21, 2010

  • I like this answer, except I probably would not take my children to the viewing. My children are 6 and 4 and they've understood death since they were both about 3 years old or so:
    At 8, she will understand. Explain that he died, if you have religious beliefs, include those. Let her know what a viewing is ( to pay respect to the body is what I would say)....Explain that the body will be there and what it will look like. Let her know that you are going as a family, and that some people may cry, some people won't, etc.....let her know that whatever she feels is okay....and just take her with you....families need to be together, and death is a reality, even for kids...we don't do our kids any favors by hiding it from them...
    MeandMyBabes

    Answer by MeandMyBabes at 12:27 PM on Apr. 21, 2010

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