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How do I explain death to a 3 year old?

My grandpa isn't going to be living past tonight, I am trying to figure out how to explain to my 3 year old daughter that her great-grampy isnt around anymore, she knows he is really really sick and the doctor can't make him better, but how do I explain to her that he died.

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aprilmommy2007

Asked by aprilmommy2007 at 8:29 PM on Sep. 17, 2010 in Preschoolers (3-4)

Level 3 (20 Credits)
Answers (13)
  • The other day while taking my son the the hospital for an evaluation I encountered a number of books related to this @ the library. I didn't know that Hospitals had Libraries for the public. Books for children about death and dying can help you to explain better.
    Honestbest

    Answer by Honestbest at 8:35 PM on Sep. 17, 2010

  • It is such a tough situation. A three year old doesnt really understand the permanency of death. Perhaps you can explain that he is now an angel with God (If you are religious) watching over you in a special way like a guardian angel. He isnt in pain or sick anymore because he is in heaven. Of course explain to her that being sad is normal & its ok to cry and talk about him. Good luck & so sorry for what you are going through.
    babybutastink

    Answer by babybutastink at 8:35 PM on Sep. 17, 2010

  • Lots of women have asked those question and here are some responses to those questions.


    You have my condolences. 

    musicmom08

    Answer by musicmom08 at 8:37 PM on Sep. 17, 2010

  • Just tell her plain and simple that he went to heaven tonight. I've always been that way with my kids and it seems quite healthy to me. Yes they will be sad, and it's okay for them to see you sad. I guess what I'm getting at is I made sure to incorporate death as a natural part of life to my kids. My 4yo daughter says when she gets really old she'll go to heaven and meet her gramma and Marvin Gaye will sing them a song! lol (I listen to Marvin Gaye alot so she knows who he is lol)
    Musicmom80

    Answer by Musicmom80 at 8:38 PM on Sep. 17, 2010

  • I would say that just like leaves change in the fall and grow again in the spring people pass away to another world to explore.
    rylymama

    Answer by rylymama at 8:44 PM on Sep. 17, 2010

  • It's hard to make them understand. When a loved pet died this past summer, I had to try to explain to my three year old why I was sad. I told her that Lucius had died, which meant that his body stopped working, so he wasn't going to be able to move or sing to us anymore, but we could still think about him.
    kittyhasclaws

    Answer by kittyhasclaws at 9:02 PM on Sep. 17, 2010

  • I just had this subject come up a few months ago with my 3 and 4 yr old and I wasnt religous till our sudden loss I just told them that there was and accident and they wont be able to see the person again and his in heaven at a party and hes looking down on them so every night I take them outside to look at the stars to be able to see their uncle they lost that they were close to. So I told them hes having a party in the sky with god. good luck I hope this helps.
    cutemomma

    Answer by cutemomma at 11:43 PM on Sep. 17, 2010

  • My stepdad died two days before my son's 3rd birthday. We had been spending a lot of time with him and my mom the week before he got sick- He had so much energy, we were doing all kinds of stuff outside, planting a garden and then he just got sick one morning. We spent every day at the hospital, a few hrs in the morning and a few in the evening to be with my mom. He passed away in the evening, and we all went home real late. My son asked the next morning when we would go see Papa and we sat him down and told him that Papa's in the stars now. (We're not "religious") We told him that we can't see him or hear him anymore, but he sure can see and hear us. My kids, now 5 and 4 say goodnight to him often. About 2 months after he passed, we were driving late one night and my son was talking about seeing Papa's star- made me cry, then he said "Mommy, I'm gonna build big stairs and bring Papa back down to hug you." Kids are great! :)
    KariLyn84

    Answer by KariLyn84 at 3:40 AM on Sep. 18, 2010

  • Be honest avoid telling her grandpa went to sleep and wont wake up kind of thing as that can lead to big problems. I would let her lead you and then answer as honestly as you can. Let her cry and see you sad as well. Death is part of life and letting your children learn to grieve is a gift. There are several great books I think it is tittle Freddy the Leaf or something like that which is about her age level that shows the life cycle. Give her a photo if she wants one and let her know although he is not there the way he used to be he is always there in her heart and in the love he gave her.
    steveiguana

    Answer by steveiguana at 9:16 AM on Sep. 18, 2010

  • Watch the Lion King. You get the whole circle of life thing explained there.
    Pnukey

    Answer by Pnukey at 3:03 PM on Sep. 18, 2010

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