Explaining Death to Youngsters

iVillage Member
Registered: 01-03-2011
Explaining Death to Youngsters
Mon, 02-28-2011 - 11:37am

This weekend I realized that I have missed a major milestone in the parent/child relationship. Explaining the concept of death to my child. There are countless articles on this online and I've always imagined this to be a form of "the talk" after the death of a pet or family member, but while going through a storage unit at my in-laws and later while playing, I found myself (1) tellign DS a bug or other creepy crawler was dead or (2) feigning death when "Buzz Lightyear" was blasting away "Zurg." DS seemed to have no hesitation and a complete grasp of the concept amazingly without my ever having to have "the talk." Especially in the bug situation, he seemed perfectly aware that by them being dead, it was a lifeless shell that would not be coming back or moving. I always thought I would have to put a ribbon and bow about death with a cheery story of an afterlife, but I guess I am fortunate that DS just "gets it."

What are your experiences on explaining death to young kids? Did you have to have "the talk" or did your kids just "get it?"

iVillage Member
Registered: 09-26-2004
Fri, 03-11-2011 - 7:12pm

Diana learned the hard way after she accidentally killed two of her pets.

Age 31
Colorado Springs, CO

iVillage Member
Registered: 04-06-2007
Thu, 03-10-2011 - 8:46pm

My father passed away when my DS was just over a year old; Dad adored him. I have always told DS that Poppy is in heaven - that he died. DS has asked what that means and I explained that Poppy was very sick and doesn't live on earth anymore - that he lives in heaven now. DS seems to be satisfied with that so far.

siggy1 Thanks to momof1sweetcutie for the si
iVillage Member
Registered: 05-12-2005
Tue, 03-01-2011 - 1:08pm
I have a two part answer to this.

Logan learned what death was when he was 2 years old. We were outside on the driveway in the summer and he stomped on a frog. I was so shocked.. that I sternly told him that he killed the frog and that it would never hop again.. Of course there was more to the conversation - but it left an impression on him - and he realized that death was perminent. After that, we'd see dead frogs on the road and he'd tell me "mom, look at the frog, aw... it'll never hop again. Its dead" then he'd make me move it to the side of the road so it wouldn't get ran over again. LOL

Fast forward to 4 years old... He had asked his dad about HIS dad. Who, passed away before he was born. His dad explained that he was sick and died. Logan then asked ME if his dad was going to die. I used it as a great segway into the death conversation. I told him that usually only people who are very very old or very very sick die. I reminded him that death is perminent. I gave him an example of my grandmother, who is 84 years old as being someone who is very, very old. And that we don't know when someone will die.. but we all do. He asked if I would die.. and I told him yes, but not for a long, long time. He asks me about this topic periodically - and we just calmly and honestly talk about it.

I guess I wouldn't wait for someone or thing to die that your child is close to.. but if you know of someone who has died recently - or if you have family pics of somene who has already passed way.. you could bring that up to your child to open up the conversation. The more detached they are from the person, probably the better. Logan never knew his grandfather.... so it was easy for us to talk about him - while I was still able to ease his concerns about his dad and I passing away too.

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