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Toddlers & Preschoolers Toddlers & Preschoolers

Explaining death to a 4 year old?

Posted by on May. 2, 2012 at 1:25 PM
  • 16 Replies

My 4 year old daughter and I have been living with my mom for the past 2 years after my divorce. When we first moved in, my mom's cat passed away suddenly. I think my daugher overheard my mom telling someone, and to this day, she will say "Mama Kitty died" out of the blue. I don't think she really understands what that means, and I've asked her, but she really doesn't answer the question. She had asked me if she was coming back, and I said no. Well, now my 15 year old dog is on her last leg, and my mom & I talked last night about having her put to sleep. How do I explain this to my daughter? My first instinct is to say that she was very sick, but I don't want her to freak out when she herself gets sick, thinking she will die. Any advice?? Thanks! :)

by on May. 2, 2012 at 1:25 PM
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by Angie on May. 2, 2012 at 2:04 PM

I'm not sure.

by on May. 2, 2012 at 2:28 PM

 My dh dad passed away before my son was born he is now 3. But we make sure he knows his grandpa. Whenever he ask questions about "grandst pa died". We just keep it simple. He knows about angels (from the movie Angels in the WE just say grandpa was sick and went to fly with the angels or we say he's flying and playing in the clouds.


by on May. 2, 2012 at 2:42 PM
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Mestiza..thanks. I can tell her that she went to "doggie heaven" and is watching over her.

by on May. 2, 2012 at 2:49 PM
My dd was 5 when my parents dog died... He was old, had diabetes and was very sick... My dd LOVED him! When my dad had to take him to be put to sleep. We told my dd as simply and honestly as possible. I told her he was very old and he was going to heaven, but she can still talk to him and he will be with her always. She got a little teary but didn't fully understand. She slowly started understanding it. A few months later, in January of this year, my grandma passed away very unexpectedly. That was hard, I was not prepared to tell my dd. But she took it well and said she is with Rex now.
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by on May. 2, 2012 at 3:01 PM

I don't know. I guess I would just leave it blunt and say that he died and not say anything else unless she asks.

by on May. 2, 2012 at 3:14 PM
When my dad passed away my ds was barely for he told me papaw lives on the moon now soo he can watch over us. And it also gives them somewhere to be able to see still.
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by on May. 2, 2012 at 3:34 PM
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When my DH uncle passed away our oldest daughter, who was very attached to him, asked us why she couldn't see Uncle Bob anymore. We told her that Jesus put Uncle Bob on earth a long time ago and that he done all the things Jesus needed him to do and now it was time for him to go heaven. She understood and didn't think another thing about it. We've never had another question come up.
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by on May. 2, 2012 at 3:57 PM

Thanks for all the advice. One more question...I was thinking that it would be best to take her while DD is at school, because I don't want her in the room when she dies. But should I let her say "goodbye" that morning, or just tell her she died when she gets home from school? I know I am overthinking this, but DD really loves my dog, and always feeds her and tries to take care of her.

by on May. 2, 2012 at 6:32 PM

Normal death, we told her that their bodies were just worn out, and their souls moved on.  Kinda like batteries when the juice is gone.

My daughter was four years old in 2001.  Death was a breeze compared to explaining 9/11.

by Member on May. 2, 2012 at 11:02 PM

What I would do in your shoes is tell her the dog is going to Doggie Heaven because it's better for her because she's really sick and she's hurting a lot. Tell her that doggies don't live as long as people do, but now the doggie can look down on her and make sure she's OK from Doggie Heaven. When my great aunt passed away we had to explain it our 2 year old. We just told her that sometimes it's better for people to be in Heaven and get their angel wings. Now when she sees angels she calls them Annie (what she called my great aunt). Worked for us. 

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