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Explaining cremation to kids

On Tuesday my MIL passed away after a year long battle with lung cancer. Her wishes were to be cremated. She spent her last days in the hospital and she did not look good. My husband and I decided it would be best not to let our kids (ages 7 & 8) see her that way. After she passed we explained to them that Grandma was sick and she went Heaven. The kids understood to some degree, but asked if they could see her. When we told them no, they were very upset. So anyway, her memorial service is next week. I am not sure how to explain that grandma's ashes are in the urn. Any advice

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Asked by blueyz1014 at 3:44 PM on Oct. 3, 2008 in School-Age Kids (5-8)

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Answers (5)

    This site might help. Sorry for your loss.

    Answer by Southerncharmes at 3:46 PM on Oct. 3, 2008

  • Because you've already said "she's in Heaven", that's an indication of your beliefs, and those that you'd pass on to your kids. This is a good time to cement those beliefs. Explain that the body is just the house, for the important soul that lives this case, Gramdma. Explain that souls can't just float around the earth, but that they need a body to be in, putting it in kid terms that they will understand. Once the body has expired healthwise, it's time for that soul to go back to be with God. Explaining that (if you do believe this) they will see her once again, sometimes that helps as well. What were her reasons for cremation vs. burial. You can teach about that as well....for instance, she may have loved the earth and wanted to preserve extra space for beautiful things, and this way she is not taking up that space.

    Answer by EireLass at 3:48 PM on Oct. 3, 2008

  • The death is alot harder than explaining what happens to the remains. Just tell them the truth and you're half there already. They know grandma is in heaven, now tell them the part that is left here on earth was burned so it became small enough to put in the urn. So long as they know that the stuff in the urn was Grandma's body not Grandma herself who is in heaven. Good luck and my condolences to your family.

    Answer by shmorris56 at 6:12 PM on Oct. 3, 2008

  • I would talk to my kids in a calm way, and act like I don't expect them to get upset or horrified. The approach can ruin it. I would explain some people want to buried in a casket, in the ground so their bodies can be whole. Some people choose to be cremated, which is having their bodies turned into ashes, and placed in urns to be buried or displayed, or spread someplace special to them. It's a choice that all people get when they are no longer inside their bodies, but passed on to Heaven. But I would also say it's not so important where grandma's remains are, what's important is that she is in heaven. That's the true final destination.


    Answer by McGregor at 10:33 PM on Oct. 4, 2008

  • A very touchy situation. My father in law was creamated. We did have a viewing before then the son didn't really ask where he was. Guess because of the viewing /prayer service. You have already explain it mostly and be honest to them that is most important. They will understand better then you think. Or maybe just ask them if they want to ask anything...go from there. So sorry to hear of your loss.

    Answer by Deb128 at 10:32 AM on Oct. 6, 2008

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