How do you explain about DEATH?

iVillage Member
Registered: 02-21-2007
How do you explain about DEATH?
Wed, 03-14-2007 - 9:20am

My 6 year old daughter has been asking a lot of questions about death. One of her friends at school told her that when you die you go to sleep and never wake up. She is very anxious and upset about this.

In the past I told her that your sole lives on and goes to heaven. So she thinks that you wake up in heaven.

She asked if we can go to heaven to visit her uncle (he died when she was a baby) and I told her no, that it's to far away. So she asked if we could mail him a letter and ask him to come visit us.

What should I tell her and how do you explain it. She wants to know if you come back home after you go to heaven. I just don't know what to say without scaring her to much, she worries a lot.

Please help with any suggestions.

Thank you,


iVillage Member
Registered: 08-15-2005
Thu, 03-15-2007 - 6:07pm

I guess it all depends on your beliefs.

My grandmother died a little over a year ago and I wish I had

given my ds the death talk before hand. I told him that when you die

your soul goes to heaven and only those that die go to heaven. I explained that

once you die you can't come back but some day, when we die we will meet up with those

who have died before us. He was really upset by my grandmothers death and still tells me

he misses her, but not as much as he use to. It was everyday, then few times a week,

then once a week now a few times a month or maybe once. I think it's improtant for

kids to know about death cause it is a part of life


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iVillage Member
Registered: 03-26-2003
Fri, 03-16-2007 - 5:09pm

I remember when my mother died when I was about 5.

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iVillage Member
Registered: 05-05-2004
Sat, 03-17-2007 - 10:45am
My dd goes with me to the cemetary a lot so I think that has helped her understand a little. My mother is gone, I lost a neice when dd was a baby and just last year I lost a godson (and close friend of dd's). They are all buried in the same cemetary so when we visit one we visit them all.
When my godson died (4 years old) I thought that would be hard for dd to understand since he was close to her age, but she excepted it better than I did. I told her his spirit is in Heaven but his body is in the cemetary. She doesn't quite understand that so when we go there I just say that we go to the "rock with his name on it" to remember him. She's never asked if he was coming back but she has asked if she could go there to be with him. I guess we just explain it as good as we can but someday they will understand. Dd still prays for him to get better (because she forgets he is gone) and I tell her that he is already better cause no one is sick in Heaven.
Now when our dog dies that is going to be hard because he is an everyday playmate and family member. My dh keeps making reference that Jack is "getting old" and I'm afraid that's going to set us up for some problems. I don't want her to worry about her grandparents becuase they are "old". And she also thinks that me and dh are "old". I don't want her to think about losing us.
I know it is a hard subject.
iVillage Member
Registered: 06-05-2006
Sat, 03-24-2007 - 2:18am

Your daughter could have misinterpreted what her friend said. If she understood it to mean that when she goes to sleep, she will die, I can see why she would be upset.

With my DD, I have been very clear that when you die, there is a reason. Her aunt died of cancer, her goldfish was killed by other fish in the tank, and her friend's cat is old and will die of old age. None of us just up and dies, not her and not us. (This is not 100% true - we could get killed in a car wreck. I'm trying to avoid that.)

I told her, when someone dies, you miss them because they were your friend and they are not with you any more. You might be lonely if someone you love dies. At barely five, she asked if her uncle would miss his wife, which I thought was perceptive. She asked if she could get a cancer vaccine when she got her shots.

She has gotten the mechanics of it. The idea that death itself is sad doesn't bother her. She thinks in terms of how it impacts her life - will someone she likes be gone? Will she get a new pet if her old one dies?

You might try asking your DD what about death bothers her. Perhaps you can clear up a misunderstanding. Also, with this age I think its important to acknowledge sorrow. Telling kids that the one that's gone is happy in heaven doesn't support their need to grieve. Even if the departed is happy, the child may be sad, and that needs to be OK.

This grief could be her way of coping with something else, too. My DD has a "surrogate sorrow." Whenever her current friendships are strained, she laments an acquaintenance that moved out of town ages ago. Especially if your DD did not know her uncle well, it is possible something different is bothering her that she can't explain.

Just a couple of ideas.


iVillage Member
Registered: 04-16-2007
Mon, 04-16-2007 - 4:53pm
I had a hard time explaining to my daughter about death as well. Her father died when she was 5, and I had no idea how to tell her. I actually consulted a child psychologist before I told her about a week later. I ended up explaining to her that we are all Gods children, and that her daddy was a very special person and God really missed him, so he called his name to come home to him, and that we would see him again when God called our names. I assured her that it did not hurt when daddy died, and that he is resting peacefully now, and he feels no pain (he was involved in an accident in 2001 that left him with terrible seizures). It has been almost 10 months since he has passed, and she tells me (and everyone else who asks) that when she grows up she wants to be Gods helper so that she can see her daddy again :( Good luck, I know how difficult and heartbraking it can be to have to explain death.
iVillage Member
Registered: 03-27-2003
Sun, 04-22-2007 - 10:07am

I'm so sorry your daughter is so anxious; I understnad both of your positions completely!

My father dies when I was eight and I remember being confused and scared for a long time after that. Fortunately for me (and obviously your daughter as well) I had a great support system and lots of people who loved me through it.

Because I am a Christian, I tell my kids that everyone has a job to do on Earth and when God knows you've done a great job, he brings you home to Heaven with Him.

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