How do you talk to toddlers about death?
How do you talk to toddlers about death? How on earth do you try and explain the finality of death to a 3.5-year-old and a 2-year-old? They have little concept of time so how can they grasp the concept of never and forever.
My mother in law died on Friday. She was a vibrant kind woman who loved her grandchildren with all her being. And they absolutely loved her back!
The term die and died are frequently in our vocabulary these days – my phones died – so we plug it in and charge it. But we can’t do that with humans, so has the term lost some of its meaning? Especially, when you think about that meaning to children.
All the articles say when you talk to toddlers about death it’s important to use the words dead and die, and give the information in small doses. And unfortunately, repeat it – which is soul destroying.
This is what we’ve told the kids:
You know how Nana was sick. Well, Nana has died and gone to heaven. Heaven is a place people go when they die and we can’t visit. But we need to remember Nana and we can still talk about Nana because just because she’s gone doesn’t mean we don’t love her anymore.
Mummy and Daddy might get upset over the next few weeks and that’s ok because we loved nana and it’s ok to be upset she’s gone.
After a little while, we read the Julia Donaldson book Paper Dolls which is luckily a book we owned. It talks about how a little girl’s paper doll get cut up and go into her memories where they’ll last forever. It’s a beautiful book. And as our kids love books we knew it would be a good approach for them.
I don’t think they’ve understood much and I know it won’t make complete sense to them, so we’ve planned to go to Nana and Grampy’s house and I think it might sink in a little more. We’ll talk about it again before we head over and as time passes and they don’t see her anymore they’ll understand she’s gone.
One of the hardest things to grasp is Gaius won’t remember her, and I don’t think will remember much Thea will either. I’m going to do some scrapbooks so they’ve got the memories to look back on growing up. We’ll make sure they know how loved they were by here.
I’m going to get some more books do you have any suggestions?