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How do I tell my 6 yr old that a child at his school died?

We just learned a little boy in our son's kindergarten was killed in a house fire this weekend. The school called to notify all parents because they will have grief counselors on site. The little boy was in a different class than my son's, so I don't think he knew him very well, but there are only 2 kindergarten classes at the school, so I'm sure they had some interaction occasionally. This is so sad; we are shocked and just not sure how best to proceed.

How would you handle this? Should we explain it to our son before he goes to school Monday? I am thinking of just telling him Monday morning, before he goes to school so he isn't caught totally off guard. Or just telling him right now. I've dealt with lots of loss in my own life, but I struggle with how best to talk to him about it. He is our oldest child, so this is new territory for us. Thanks for any advice you can offer.


Asked by klickitykat at 8:33 PM on Apr. 16, 2011 in School-Age Kids (5-8)

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Answers (9)
  • So sorry to hear about this. I think that I would use this opportunity to talk with him myself first, before school. I would probably just tell him that he died and won't be back to school anymore and answer whatever questons he asked after that. It's also a good time to review fire safety and its real dangers.

    Answer by Mommee42boyz at 8:41 PM on Apr. 16, 2011

  • that is really sad, i would tell him before Monday that way if he has any questions then you will have time to answer them and you can explain the death process to him. I know this will not be easy. Let him know that he is with God or that is an angel protecting other kids that need help. Good luck!!

    Answer by jenn4443 at 8:37 PM on Apr. 16, 2011

  • OMG! How horrible! I would talk to him before Monday, in case he has questions that you can help him with. If you wait until Monday he'll be shocked and it'll start his day off bad. At least telling him early will give him an oppurtunity to absorb it.

    Answer by Kathy675 at 8:37 PM on Apr. 16, 2011

  • I am so so sorry you are going through this with your child. We lived this with our neighbor. 3 boys died. I told my babies the truth about thier friends and cried with them. I answered what questions I could and was truthful also when I did not know an answer. One thing I told my babies that first day will not always hurt am much as it hurts today. Best wishes to you all.

    Answer by ochsamom at 8:37 PM on Apr. 16, 2011

  • Does your son understand death yet? If not, you might want to wait on that. My mother died two years ago when my oldest son was 7. He was very close to my mom. I just told him that mamie had to go to a place where she didn't hurt anymore and we would see her again. He seem to process this better than explaining death. You might want to wait and see what happens at school and just answer questions he has. I hope this helps. But no matter what just be there for him.

    Answer by babydolphin718 at 8:39 PM on Apr. 16, 2011

  • If you think finding out will be better for him to hear coming from you rather than the school councilor, tell him. If he has questions, answer them. He might be afraid of house fires since this is what caused the child's death. Assure him that this does not happen very often and should not happen to him or anyone in his family as you are careful to prevent house fires.  At age 6, kids don't have a very good idea about death being permanent, so he may have some strange questions.


    Answer by JSD24 at 8:40 PM on Apr. 16, 2011

  • I would certainly tell him about it b/c others will be talking, you shouldnt leave it up to someone else to have to tell him. My daughter who is now 3 understands death. I told her that those people who have passed (she has known some already) that they have a house on a cloud. I explained that just like we have houses & things down here on the planet earth that these people who have passed away get a house up there, they can see us but we cant see them. She also knows that each one of these people get a headstone in a cemetary. It worked for us & she now understands what it all means.

    Answer by Mel30248 at 8:42 PM on Apr. 16, 2011

  • I would definitely talk to my child before Monday. He may have questions and might need time to process..

    Answer by MissLoveLyfe at 8:57 PM on Apr. 16, 2011

  • Well, I told him and I don't think he really understands, and/or didn't know the child. He seemed more concerned that I was crying. I also found out that it was not just his classmate, but also his little brother, and mom. I'm sure our son will be just fine, but we'll see if he is more upset after Monday. I'm presuming they'll have the little boy's photo posted.

    Hug and love your little ones as much as you can.

    Comment by klickitykat (original poster) at 9:06 PM on Apr. 16, 2011