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Explaining Death to a Five Year Old

Updated on January 7, 2018

Talking to your children about death isn't an easy thing to do. It is especially hard when your children are small, and don't quite understand.

In 2007 right after Mother's Day I had to try to explain to my two children who were 5 and 2, that "Miss Pam" wouldn't be with us anymore. My daughter, the 5 year old, was full of questions. "Where did she go?" "When will she be back?" "Why did she leave?" At this point I had to try to explain to her about death. I wasn't prepared for this as I had just lost my best friend under unpleasant circumstances. You see she didn't just die, she was murdered by her husband. So I wasn't sure how much to tell them.

I decided just to tell them that she went to be with God and Jesus. My daughter was still full of questions. "Why did she go to heaven, didn't she want to be here with us and her son (who was 2 1/2)?" I told her that she loved us all but she was needed in heaven more than she was needed here. I told her that she was an angel now and will watch over us.

It is very hard to explain death especially when you don't understand it yourself. This was the first time I had to try and explain it and probably the hardest. I have had to explain to them that other people have died but those times were never like this.

A friend of my daughters died from leukemia. I didn't have as hard of a time explaining this as she knew that he had been sick. We told her that his body couldn't fight being sick anymore. She understood and didn't ask anymore questions.. She did make one statement though. "Mommy, I'm sad that he's gone but I'm happy that he isn't in pain anymore." I think at that moment my daughter taught me something.


Have you ever had to explain death to a child?

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Talking to your kids about death isn't easy but you can't leave them in the dark about it. I have found that if I just sit down with them and talk about my feelings they will share their feelings too. My children are now 11, 8 and 2. They have had to deal with the death of someone close several times now. They have learned to deal with it very well. They know how to comfort each other and how to share how they feel about it. Whether they are sad or extremely mad they share and don't keep anything inside. After sharing their feelings they sit and talk about all the good times that they had with that person, and they remember only the good things. When they visit the cemetery they only talk about the good things and times and never about the sadness of their loss. I think my kids are pretty remarkable.


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