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What do i tell my 5 year old about death?

My father was diagnosed with cancer last year and last week they said it went to his brain and that he doesn't have much longer. How do i explain things to a 5 year old when he passes?

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Asked by Anonymous at 1:44 PM on Sep. 20, 2010 in General Parenting

Answers (10)
  • The truth, it is the best way ...

    Answer by MTM at 1:47 PM on Sep. 20, 2010

  • I've read that it's best to be simple and honest with your answers to any questions your child may have. Don't sugar-coat it, but don't be unnecessarily harsh either. Things like "grampa was very sick and his body stopped working." If you have religious beliefs, be sure to include those.

    I'm sorry to hear about your dad :( It must be very difficult.

    Answer by arouthier at 1:47 PM on Sep. 20, 2010

  • It it s hard for even adults to understand death, specially a close loved one's death, but a 5 year old can understand about being sick, tell her that her grandpa is very sick and he might die and go to heaven soon, heaven for most kids is a safe haven. Just tell her the truth, so when it happens she will be informed and the trauma will be much less. I am so sorry for what you are going through, unfortunately we all have to see our parents die one day no one is excluded, hugs from me to you.

    Answer by older at 1:48 PM on Sep. 20, 2010

  • It really depends on what you believe. As a Christian, we teach our kids that when someone dies, they go to be in Heaven and it's a place where they don't have any pain or sadness, and they can watch over them all the time. My father-in-law recently passed away, and though my kids were very sad about it, they were able to cope because they knew how much health problems he had, and how much pain medicines he had to take for constant pain, so they knew that he wasn't hurting any more.

    If you do not believe in Heaven, then just explain to your daughter that it's kind of a permanent sleep (though I'd be very careful comparing it to sleep, I've known someone whose parents told them death was like sleep and they didn't want to go to sleep again...), and let her know that grandpa isn't in any pain anymore. Make sure she knows it's okay to be sad and express her feelings too, don't shut her out in your own sadness.

    Answer by AprilDJC at 1:50 PM on Sep. 20, 2010

  • There's a book, "When Dinosaurs Die". At five, you'll have to do the reading, but it's a good place to start. I was given the book at 7 when my Dad lost his battle with cancer and it presents things in a way that will make sense to most kids.

    Answer by flitpixie at 1:51 PM on Sep. 20, 2010

  • Sorry, I ran out of room. I also wanted to say so sorry you are having to go through this, I know how tough it is after DH's dad passed. Hugs, and I wish you the best in explaining to your daughter. Let her visit him as much as she can right now, and take LOTS of photos for her to keep.

    Answer by AprilDJC at 1:52 PM on Sep. 20, 2010

  • You just explain to her that grandpa had to go up to heaven to help god out with things up there, You know what your child can understand or not understand you are the only one that knows your child the best. You want to keep in a 5yrs old way. Allow her to ask as many questions as she has to. Keep it simple but as truthful as you can. I am a firm believer in being nothing but truthful with my children. I also try to keep simple and at the age appropriate as possible.
    I am sorry for your father but when he does pass he will no longer be in pain. God Bless you and your father I will keep you in my prays.

    Answer by raemommy at 1:52 PM on Sep. 20, 2010

  • Simple, but honest. What ever you believe. We told our children that the person died. We've taken them to their grave and showed them where they "rest". They know it's just the body there.

    Answer by Sarasmoonflower at 2:15 PM on Sep. 20, 2010

  • When it was obvious that my FIL was going to pass away last summer with sat down with our then 4 yr old and told him that Grandpa was very, very ill. We stressed that it was nothing that he could have given his grandfather, just that grandpa's heart wasn't very strong anymore; and that he was going to die (He asked "just like the guppies?")

    We had the book The Tenth Good Thing About Barney, which about pet death, but helped him relate. It about broke my heart watching my 9 yr old DD curled up on the couch reading it to her little brother.

    We also stressed that it is okay to feel sad and cry when you need to cry. And that goes for adults, too. Sometimes we are so busy taking care of others that we forget that we need to mourn as well.

    I am so sorry for your impending loss.

    Answer by balagan_imma at 2:18 PM on Sep. 20, 2010

  • There is a great chilren's book called Freddy The Leaf that helps with the subject of death. Let me know if you need help finding it.

    Answer by wellnessgirl at 4:29 PM on Sep. 21, 2010

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