Explaining Death

iVillage Member
Registered: 05-19-2009
Explaining Death
Wed, 01-06-2010 - 12:04pm

Hi Everyone,

This is my first time here. I have a 3 year old DD.

A very good friend's Mom passed away Tuesday night after being diagnosed with cancer 2 weeks ago. She was in her 80's,living with our friend, we knew she was sick but she wouldn't see a doctor etc. My DD was very close to her, called her Nana. Whenever we'd go by our friend's house they always played together,she was the first person she'd want to go to. I think DD started sensing something wasn't right when Nana stopped coming out of her room sometimes or when she did it wasn't for long. We'd just tell DD that Nana wasn't feeling good or she was tired....none of us knew what was wrong.

Most likely we won't be bringing DD to the wake Friday but we will be going over to their house Saturday. How do I explain to DD when she asks where her Nana is? I know she's going to ask. Right now, my DD is drawing pictures and told me that this one picture is for Nana. I know this should've been my opportunity to try to explain to her but I just got teary and told her I was sure Nana would like that.

Thanks for any advice you can offer.

iVillage Member
Registered: 02-06-2006
Wed, 01-06-2010 - 5:41pm

HUGS to you and your DD...I'm so sorry for your loss. How heartbreaking for your little girl.

Thankfully I have not had to deal with explaining death yet to my 3-year-old, but I know it's inevitable. I know you're not supposed to say they are "sleeping" because that could scare the kids. You could say that Nana was very sick and very old and her body stopped working and she is not here anymore because of that. If you believe in a Heaven or something like that, you could say that Nana is with God now and is happy, but that we won't be able to see her again. Depending on your beliefs, you could explain that even though Nana won't be here anymore to play with her, that she can always think of Nana and know that Nana loves her from Heaven.

I would imagine there are some good kids books that might help you explain it gently. Keep in mind that at age 3, she doesn't need a lot of specifics and probably will not understand a whole lot (and may still ask you about where Nana is for a while). You could also ask the pediatrician or a child psychologist or social worker for some suggestions.

Good luck to you and sending you HUGS. KUP on how you handle it, as I'm sure all of us could use some techniques for that (unfortunately).

ryanjordan-2.gif iV sig2 1209 picture by melalev

iVillage Member
Registered: 10-30-2007
Tue, 01-12-2010 - 4:25pm

I agree.. there are some really good books to explain these things to kids... but in a kind, gentle way.


Dante_byLovetoday.jpg picture by irishnutmeg


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