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How do you tell a 4 year old...

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How do you tell a 4 1/2 year old that someone passed away? On Friday while he was camping with his papa, my grandmother passed away. He knew her, and saw her pretty often, she was living with my mother. So not telling him as my dad suggested isnt going to cut it. My mother just told me to tell him she went to heaven to live with the angels, which doesnt sound half bad...except the catch of, we are not religous in my house hold, and DS's knowledge of Heaven doesnt extend past "all dogs go to heaven." He isnt attending the visitiation bc I dont want to scare him, but on saturday (she is being creamated) I am going to take him to the memorial service. Any suggestions?

CafeMom Tickers
by on May. 8, 2012 at 1:57 AM
Replies (11-20):
TurboMom81
by on May. 8, 2012 at 10:47 AM

My Children were 6 and 3 when my GRandmother was killed in a car accident.  I had a hard time teling them because my mind was still reeling and I was an emotional wreck. BUt they understood that there was an accident and Great Grand Ma was heard so bad that Jesus took her to Heaven.  And that we will see her again one day.

We do not go to church but I am a believer and my children have a good understanding of Jesus and Heaven.


jpuls
by on May. 8, 2012 at 10:49 AM
Sorry for your loss. I just went through that not to long ago with my almost 3 year old dd when my grandpa died. I took her to the hospital when he was dying to say goodbye. And she went to the viewing and the funeral. I just explained that gpa was really sick and sometimes the only way to get better is to go up in the sky and watch over us and that means he won't be around to play with you anymore but that he will always love you.
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jessi2girls
by on May. 8, 2012 at 11:02 AM
1 mom liked this

I explained it like the life of a flower to my oldest..

we start off as seeds in the bellies of our mommies (she seen me pregnant with my youngest so this covered two bases for me)..  like plant seeds in the ground..

we grow, we bloom, we wilt, and we die.. just like the flowers..

Left behind are always seeds to help start new life, and in those seeds we hold the memories of those who have died.

(if you have a garden it's a good way to explain). Or trees...

(my dd was 2 when I first explain it, and it seemed to comfort her at the very least, when her papa passed.. when she was 3 her other great grandfather passed and we used the same explaination, by the time she was 4 and our cat had to go to the vet to get put down, she had a pretty clear understanding... of life and death.)

As far as accidental deaths (a friend from pre-k had a sibling pass so the topic was brought up).. we discussed it like picking a flower.. sometimes if you pick a flower it dies faster.. because you take away what keeps it alive.

We aren't religious in my family either... so anyways, this was how we dealt with it with my oldest.. my youngest is only 17 months yet.. so right now only understand a few things.. like MINE! LMAO.

abbymomo2
by on May. 8, 2012 at 11:16 AM

My stepfather passed away VERY suddenly at 46 years old last year, the day before my daughter's 5th birthday. He has always been one of the most important people in our lives. Because of the timing, we waited 5 days to tell her. It was one of the hardest things I have had to do, definitely the most heart wrenching thing that has ever had to come out of my mouth. We're not religious, so heaven doesn't work for us. I told her how lucky Papa is because his energy can be with us all the time now. I explained that his energy is free and not held down by a body, we just need to look for him a little harder. We cry together a lot, we talk about him all the time, I point out when he leaves us things and i 100% believe he does. On Thanksgiving, I went outside and there was a perfect peace sign in the snow...he was a hippie. I also find heart rocks in weird places (he collected them)

abbymomo2
by on May. 8, 2012 at 11:19 AM


Quoting abbymomo2:

My stepfather passed away VERY suddenly at 46 years old last year, the day before my daughter's 5th birthday. He has always been one of the most important people in our lives. Because of the timing, we waited 5 days to tell her. It was one of the hardest things I have had to do, definitely the most heart wrenching thing that has ever had to come out of my mouth. We're not religious, so heaven doesn't work for us. I told her how lucky Papa is because his energy can be with us all the time now. I explained that his energy is free and not held down by a body, we just need to look for him a little harder. We cry together a lot, we talk about him all the time, I point out when he leaves us things and i 100% believe he does. On Thanksgiving, I went outside and there was a perfect peace sign in the snow...he was a hippie. I also find heart rocks in weird places (he collected them)


Sorry, my computer stopped responding...I point out birds that are significant to Papa and even found a rock with a perfect duck in it. She knows we keep him alive, she knows she can cry with me whenever she needs to and she knows it makes me just as sad as itmakes her. Sometimes the best way to say something is to just say it....

leavinglasvegas
by on May. 8, 2012 at 11:32 AM

My mom passed away when I was 5 months pregnant with DD1. She sees pics of her and asks about her, then asked why hadn't she met her yet and when were we going to visit her? I don't believe in heaven and didn't want to go that route. I simply told her that she died - that she got very very sick and she couldn't be made better. I also compared it to flowers and things, like abbymomo2, so she'd have a clearer idea of the difference between life and death.

She's been satisfied with that answer but mentions that my mother is dead a lot. I don't think she understands the entire concept but she understands enough that she isn't here and she can't meet her- that's all it is, really. As she gets older she may ask for more details and I let her questions guide how much info I discuss with her. It's more difficult because your son knew her and spent time with her, but I'd keep it simple and honest. Truly, the bottom line is that they aren't living and breathing and we can't see them anymore - difficult, but simple and true. 

leavinglasvegas
by on May. 8, 2012 at 11:35 AM

Another note - there is no easy way and you can't avoid his possible confusion and tears. As adults, we go through the same feelings and I'd be honest with him about that too. Mama's crying because she is sad that the person died and isn't here, just the same as he will be. You can't greive for him or maybe even make sense of it for him - as grief does this to all of us - and it may be a comfort to him to know that his 4 1/2 year old feelings are shared and understood by you because you feel the same way.

mommyjenn84
by on May. 8, 2012 at 11:36 AM
Id just tell him that she died... Idk... Im not a lot of help. My mom died 5 yrs before my children were born and ive just always told them that shes their angel, they can talk to her and love her anyway... I answer questions as best I can for their age when they come up. Basically, my children have always known death because theyve never had my mom. As hard as thats been, its been easier to explain when others they DO know have passed on.

Gl and im very sorry for your loss.
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gamomof3cuties
by on May. 8, 2012 at 11:40 AM

You tell him that she isnt coming back because she got old and died.Then you tell him that since she didnt need her body anymore you all burned it. If you dont believe in heaven then that is the truth.

MandiK
by on May. 8, 2012 at 11:43 AM

We really aren't religious in our house either, but my daughters best friends little brother passed away when she was three. And I taught her about Heaven, and the angels. It seemed the best way to explain it to a child, and we do believe in god, we just don't go to church. I basically said "Baby CJ went to go live with the Angels in Heaven now." She asked quite a few questions, it was a couple years ago so I don't remember exactly what, but in the end it was the best thing to say IMO. Good luck

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