Discussing death with kids

Discussing death with kids

wcl
Joined: September 19th, 2006, 11:17 am

July 28th, 2012, 7:58 pm #1

Sorry to bring up such a downer of a topic, but my grandchildren's step-grandma is in hospice right now, and I would like to have your input.

My GS will be 6 in a couple of weeks. My GD is 3. My biggest question is about the impending death and funeral. My DD does not think she should bring the children. I agree about the little one. But the older one? She's concerned that it will upset him. I'm not sure. I think it might be helpful to him in understanding what death is--in the case of a person he is not that emotionally close to--and to see that life goes on even when people are feeling sad and miss the person. They eat, they laugh, they remember. I am thinking, how long can we protect him, and when would be the right time to expose him to life's sadder events?

What do you think?

wcl
Quote
Like
Share

Joined: September 29th, 2010, 9:51 pm

July 29th, 2012, 1:14 am #2

When my Uncle passed away unexpectedly last summer, the Pastor actually did a children's service/message at the memorial. He read the story: Waterbugs and Dragonflies by D. Stickney while the nieces, nephews, and grandchildren who were old enough (ages 4-12) sat up front. My daughter was 3 and we got a sitter for her all day. I had never heard the story before and I thought the Pastor had done an amazing job. I know it has taken a while for the whole idea to sink in for the kids. I mean until you experience the months following a passing you don't really understand "not coming back." Peace to your family!

Story:
http://www.rainbowsbridge.com/Belovedhe ... 37500.aspx
Quote
Like
Share

cy2
Joined: February 16th, 2006, 6:45 pm

July 29th, 2012, 1:23 am #3

Sorry to bring up such a downer of a topic, but my grandchildren's step-grandma is in hospice right now, and I would like to have your input.

My GS will be 6 in a couple of weeks. My GD is 3. My biggest question is about the impending death and funeral. My DD does not think she should bring the children. I agree about the little one. But the older one? She's concerned that it will upset him. I'm not sure. I think it might be helpful to him in understanding what death is--in the case of a person he is not that emotionally close to--and to see that life goes on even when people are feeling sad and miss the person. They eat, they laugh, they remember. I am thinking, how long can we protect him, and when would be the right time to expose him to life's sadder events?

What do you think?

wcl
a funeral or burial service. I think he was 4 when my grandpa passed away. To me, funerals and honoring those who pass away is part of life. It is important to deal with in a healthy and accepting manner.

On the other hand, if a child is too young to sit quietly and would cause a disturbance, I think they shouldn't attend.

Quote
Like
Share

Joined: June 24th, 2005, 12:12 am

July 29th, 2012, 2:01 pm #4

Sorry to bring up such a downer of a topic, but my grandchildren's step-grandma is in hospice right now, and I would like to have your input.

My GS will be 6 in a couple of weeks. My GD is 3. My biggest question is about the impending death and funeral. My DD does not think she should bring the children. I agree about the little one. But the older one? She's concerned that it will upset him. I'm not sure. I think it might be helpful to him in understanding what death is--in the case of a person he is not that emotionally close to--and to see that life goes on even when people are feeling sad and miss the person. They eat, they laugh, they remember. I am thinking, how long can we protect him, and when would be the right time to expose him to life's sadder events?

What do you think?

wcl
My dad died when I was 5. I went to the funeral but not the cemetery afterwards. I remember it all pretty well. I enjoyed the funeral because it was nice and interesting to hear people talking about my father. Against my mother's wishes, there was an open casket. I creeped up just enough to see his shoes and that image still freaks me out. Wish I hadn't done that, but it was so tempting--like a car crash.

I was fine staying home with the babysitter for the cemetery piece.

I think my mom is overall happy with the way this worked.

FWIW!

Sorry for the impending loss. It is always hard.



me:smc (single mom by choice)
FSH: 16
Dd: Conceived when I was 42 after 2 years ttc. Conceived on 6th IVF cycle after 2 bfn's and 3 m/cs.

<a href="http://lilypie.com/" rel="nofollow"><img src="http://lb5f.lilypie.com/Y5PUm4.png" width="400" height="80" border="0" alt="Lilypie Fifth Birthday tickers"></a>

me:smc (single mom by choice)
FSH: 16
Dd: Conceived when I was 42 after 2 years ttc. Conceived on 6th IVF cycle after 2 bfn's and 3 m/cs.

Quote
Like
Share

Joined: August 30th, 2006, 9:39 pm

July 29th, 2012, 11:00 pm #5

Sorry to bring up such a downer of a topic, but my grandchildren's step-grandma is in hospice right now, and I would like to have your input.

My GS will be 6 in a couple of weeks. My GD is 3. My biggest question is about the impending death and funeral. My DD does not think she should bring the children. I agree about the little one. But the older one? She's concerned that it will upset him. I'm not sure. I think it might be helpful to him in understanding what death is--in the case of a person he is not that emotionally close to--and to see that life goes on even when people are feeling sad and miss the person. They eat, they laugh, they remember. I am thinking, how long can we protect him, and when would be the right time to expose him to life's sadder events?

What do you think?

wcl
Hi,
A lot depends on what the funeral will be like. Open casket? Probably not for kids.
Closed casket, certainly could be okay.
I think than when people have been in hospice, the family is already starting to grieve, which makes the tenor of the funeral very different than one in which someone might have died suddenly, especially before their time.

Of course, religious beliefs also play in here as well, and how people talk about the person who has died. If they talk about her as having "gone to be with/in Heaven" young children may have questions about what that means. Of course, having questions isn't necessarily the same as "being upset". I'm not sure what your daughter's concern is, and perhaps asking her what she would do if he were upset might help her problem-solve it rather than just try to avoid anything that might upset him. Of course, it is also about knowing your child -- some children ruminate & worry even at early ages, while others do not.

Oh, and I remember learning from a group here http://www.dougy.org/) that one thing to say is that step-grandma had a disease (rather than say that she just got sick -- kids can't differentiate between sick/I have a cold and sick/he has cancer -- so using "disease" for something fatal keeps the two very different for the littles.

My FIL died when DD was 2 and she was at the funeral. Whenever we are in DH's hometown, we go with DGM to the cemetary.
When DD was almost 4, a dear friend of ours lost his battle with brain cancer. DD visited him in hospice with me, and made pictures for his room there.

Today, at nearly six, she talks about the people we know who have died, including some who died before she was born.

Susan
Quote
Like
Share

wcl
Joined: September 19th, 2006, 11:17 am

July 30th, 2012, 11:19 am #6

When my Uncle passed away unexpectedly last summer, the Pastor actually did a children's service/message at the memorial. He read the story: Waterbugs and Dragonflies by D. Stickney while the nieces, nephews, and grandchildren who were old enough (ages 4-12) sat up front. My daughter was 3 and we got a sitter for her all day. I had never heard the story before and I thought the Pastor had done an amazing job. I know it has taken a while for the whole idea to sink in for the kids. I mean until you experience the months following a passing you don't really understand "not coming back." Peace to your family!

Story:
http://www.rainbowsbridge.com/Belovedhe ... 37500.aspx
Thank you, I ordered the book! (nt)
Quote
Like
Share

wcl
Joined: September 19th, 2006, 11:17 am

July 30th, 2012, 11:20 am #7

a funeral or burial service. I think he was 4 when my grandpa passed away. To me, funerals and honoring those who pass away is part of life. It is important to deal with in a healthy and accepting manner.

On the other hand, if a child is too young to sit quietly and would cause a disturbance, I think they shouldn't attend.
I agree, Cy, well said. (nt)
Quote
Like
Share

wcl
Joined: September 19th, 2006, 11:17 am

July 30th, 2012, 11:22 am #8

My dad died when I was 5. I went to the funeral but not the cemetery afterwards. I remember it all pretty well. I enjoyed the funeral because it was nice and interesting to hear people talking about my father. Against my mother's wishes, there was an open casket. I creeped up just enough to see his shoes and that image still freaks me out. Wish I hadn't done that, but it was so tempting--like a car crash.

I was fine staying home with the babysitter for the cemetery piece.

I think my mom is overall happy with the way this worked.

FWIW!

Sorry for the impending loss. It is always hard.



me:smc (single mom by choice)
FSH: 16
Dd: Conceived when I was 42 after 2 years ttc. Conceived on 6th IVF cycle after 2 bfn's and 3 m/cs.
Quite an experience, Tara! (nt)
Quote
Like
Share

wcl
Joined: September 19th, 2006, 11:17 am

July 30th, 2012, 11:23 am #9

Hi,
A lot depends on what the funeral will be like. Open casket? Probably not for kids.
Closed casket, certainly could be okay.
I think than when people have been in hospice, the family is already starting to grieve, which makes the tenor of the funeral very different than one in which someone might have died suddenly, especially before their time.

Of course, religious beliefs also play in here as well, and how people talk about the person who has died. If they talk about her as having "gone to be with/in Heaven" young children may have questions about what that means. Of course, having questions isn't necessarily the same as "being upset". I'm not sure what your daughter's concern is, and perhaps asking her what she would do if he were upset might help her problem-solve it rather than just try to avoid anything that might upset him. Of course, it is also about knowing your child -- some children ruminate & worry even at early ages, while others do not.

Oh, and I remember learning from a group here http://www.dougy.org/) that one thing to say is that step-grandma had a disease (rather than say that she just got sick -- kids can't differentiate between sick/I have a cold and sick/he has cancer -- so using "disease" for something fatal keeps the two very different for the littles.

My FIL died when DD was 2 and she was at the funeral. Whenever we are in DH's hometown, we go with DGM to the cemetary.
When DD was almost 4, a dear friend of ours lost his battle with brain cancer. DD visited him in hospice with me, and made pictures for his room there.

Today, at nearly six, she talks about the people we know who have died, including some who died before she was born.

Susan
Very helpful, Susan. Insightful as always! (nt)
Quote
Like
Share

Joined: February 10th, 2009, 9:24 pm

August 2nd, 2012, 3:19 am #10

Sorry to bring up such a downer of a topic, but my grandchildren's step-grandma is in hospice right now, and I would like to have your input.

My GS will be 6 in a couple of weeks. My GD is 3. My biggest question is about the impending death and funeral. My DD does not think she should bring the children. I agree about the little one. But the older one? She's concerned that it will upset him. I'm not sure. I think it might be helpful to him in understanding what death is--in the case of a person he is not that emotionally close to--and to see that life goes on even when people are feeling sad and miss the person. They eat, they laugh, they remember. I am thinking, how long can we protect him, and when would be the right time to expose him to life's sadder events?

What do you think?

wcl
I remember when I was about that age, my aunt died. We werent particularly close but I certainly knew who she was. My family left me with the neighbor while they went out of town for the funeral. It left me with an odd feeling. Im sure my parents wanted to protect me, but Im not sure it was the right decision because I still remember being left behind.

I agree with you that, while it is sad, it is a part of life and children need to see that it is a part of life and that life does go on afterward. My son, 5.5, has had countless questions about death lately. The questions have focused around DH and I and how he will miss us, how do people die, will he die (that one really got a lump in my throat)....lots and lots of questions. I dont know why he is thinking so much about death, I figure it must be normal for his age. They have been difficult questions for me, but I try to do my best to reassure him that DH and I are doing what we can to stay healthy so that we can be in his life for a long time. He still has lots of questions and worry about it. I dont know if attending a funeral would be helpful or cause him more worry. But I would probably bring him if if were me in your daughters position.

I find it so sad to have to break that idyllic bubble that children see life through. They just grow up too fast, and life moves too quickly!

Pink
Quote
Like
Share