S.H. asks from Anahuac, TX on January 10, 2007
Child Obsessed with Death
My 6 year old daughter has been through a lot of deaths in her short little life. She was very close to my grandfather who passed away when she was 2. It wasn't long after that when my grandmother starting caring for her brother. They too became buddies before he passed away. One of my childhood friends and several pets later, I'm afraid she is having trouble coping.
Coming from a Christian background, I tried to tell her that when someone dies, it is God calling us home because He needs us in Heaven more than we need them. In the case of my grandfather, we explained that he was in a lot of pain and that God couldn't stand to see him suffer anymore, so brought him to Heaven so he wouldn't hurt anymore. She seemed to do OK at first, but lately, that has all changed. She is always talking about "when people die" and "if my sister chokes on that she will die". She is always talking about "when Paw died". I try to tell her that we don't want to focus on the sad things that might happen or did happen, but remember good times, think of happy things, then try to change the subject to something else.
Today she came home and showed me one of her math papers trying to tell me it wasn't hers, but that's a whole other story. On the back of it, she drew a picture of herself crying next to a man in a casket. Next to it, she wrote "Paw died". I'm very concerned that this is something she is struggling with and I don't know how to help her. Heck, it was 4 years ago this month!!!! I have an appointment with the school councelor tomorrow, but I'm not too sure about it. Where can I turn, what should I be asking, and what can I do to help my child cope?
T.M. answers from Fayetteville on January 11, 2007
Why not discuss death with her? My son (about 5 at the time) was seemingly obsessed with death after we had a couple deaths in the family. He was always talking about it. It scared me that he could be so interested in it, but he was. So we talked about it...over and over. We explored everything that he was interested in and I explained as much as I could. Once he got the attention that he needed and expressed things his way (by learning everthing about it) then he was ready to move on.
Kids are like human sponges, they soak everything up. But you have to give them the information to soak up. Once they have, then they are ready to move on to something else.
I hope this helps some.
S.B. answers from Texarkana on January 11, 2007
I have a 13 year old daughter who worries about her loved ones on a regular basis. I know it isn't the same issue exactly, but it is still a girl who has emotional trauma. We lost a dog over a year ago that had been with us since before my daughter was born. She was obsessed with her grief over the dog to the point that I had to take her to the doctor one morning because of the stress. She has finally calmed down about it and talks about it less. I think one of the most important ways to help is to make sure her feelings are acknowledged and important. Maybe you could give her somewhere to focus her feelings about her grief, like a grief posterboard. She could pin up her drawings, photos of the loved ones, etc. Maybe you could give her a special area to grieve. Like a place in the yard outside where she could go and have her private time and have her imaginery talk with her loved one and pray. Help her make a flower arrangement for the deceased. Give her a special small something to carry in her pocket that belonged to the person. My daughter carried around a dog tag from our pet for months, and she finally put it away in her jewelry box.
J.S. answers from Houston on January 11, 2007
My children have dealt with much death also. For our family we just talk about it. For a time they were obsessed like your daughter. We talked about it when ever they wanted to, but in a nonemotional matter of fact way. One would say grandpa died. We would say yes he did. We would talk about how much better grandpa was in heaven. One would say I miss grandpa. We would say we do too. Just matter of fact not tearing up or trying to comfort them. We want our children to know death is a fact of life, nothing to be afraid to do or to discuss. It sounds to me like your daughter wants to talk about it. Her drawing pictures may be a way of drawing you into discussion. Does she know why the people in her life have died? How did the adults around her react to his passing? I hope I have given you something to mull over. I hope the counselor has some advice as well. God Bless.
H.H. answers from Sherman on January 11, 2007
Counseling is a good thing. I am not sure that a school counselor is your best bet. They see so many students that your daughter may only get to go in once a month. I think she needs more than that personally. I would try to find a Christian counselor. Even your pastor, or preacher at your church does counseling. That may be your best bet in this type of situation. Since this is the month that he died she may be struggling with it because of the anniversary. I can definately see your concern. Good luck.
B.B. answers from Jonesboro on January 10, 2007
My four year old is going Through this as well. Our pets passed away as a result of (1 of old age..2 mourned to death of the death of each other.. one kicked by a horse.. and one from a bad litter) ALL TIME A PERIOD OF 5 months). NOw my grandfather has passed away. My son is always asking if Im goin to die or if his brothers and siter are goin to die. Or when the puppies died. I try to devert the situation. I try to occupy him with a new subject and not even let on that I am even goin to began to disscuss the death issue ..because really he is too young to understand! Hope this helps.
J.R. answers from Fort Smith on January 11, 2007
I think you need to let her grieve. It sounds like every time she tries to express her sadness, you tell her to be happy and change the subject. Go to her, alone in her room or in a car ride, and tell her she can say whatever she wants about her Paw. Tell her she can scream, cry, be angry, sad, whatever makes her feel better. Back up whatever she feels, like, it's not fair, she misses him, she may even be angry with him or with God. I am also a Christian, but even as an adult you can understand why someone dies, but it doesn't make your heart hurt any less. She needs to know that she's allowed to feel any way she wants, and express those feelings, not focus on what's good and change the subject. maybe, hopefully, when she sees she's allowed to feel sad, angry, whatever, she'll stop focusing on death. When she says, my sister could choke and die, you could say,"I would be very sad and upset if that happened," and see what her response is. I really hope this helps.
A.B. answers from Sherman on January 11, 2007
Your daughter is trying to let you know that she is grieving but doesnt know how. Since she was close to those who have passed she understands that they are gone, and by now she is old enough to understand what death means. At the time of their passing she was too young to understand why, but she was old enough to understand that they would not be coming back. Children, no matter what age, still have the need to go thru grieving to get past something tradgeic like a death of a family member or a pet. The know that people dont just disappear. Try talking to her about it and what it means. Let her express how she is feeling (and showing emotion about it may not be a bad thing - that might be just what she is looking for) Let her know that it is okay to be sad when that happens and emotions are okay, but that they are in a better place and we should now focus on the happy times we share with them. Death is inevitable in our lifetime so she needs to learn how to express those feelings of "hurt" in a good, safe way. I dont think that she is depressed or needs drugs to help her.....I think she just needs to talk it out. And maybe talking to someone outside of her family will enable her to come to grips with her feelings about death(ie. your pastor; counselor or a family friend). Children understand a lot more than what we give them credit for sometimes (and at really young ages) - try talking to her as a "big girl" and let her ask the questions. You just give the answers. Hope some of this helps and you are able to help her understand what and why it happend. Good luck
S. answers from Houston on January 11, 2007
YOU NEED TO TAKE HER TO A DR. AND GET HER ON THE LIQUID
DEPRESSANT, (MY 9 YR. OLD GIRL IS CURRENTLY ON IT) AND
WE HAVE SEEN A DRAMATIC TURN!!! SHE ALSO TALKED ABOUT DEATH!
HOPE THIS HELPS !
HAVE A GREAT DAY ! ~
L.A. answers from Houston on January 11, 2007
I was starting to think my daughter was the only child who seemed so worried about death!! She just turned 6 yrs old on January 3rd, and for the past few yrs, she has talked about it a lot and how much it scares her. She has had a few great-grandparents pass away and one very important pet (like a member of the family) along with a couple of other pets. Anyway, she's not just scared to die - she's really freaked out about me or her father dying. She tells me at least once a week (sometimes even daily) about how she doesn't want me or her dad to die and she always starts crying. She asks me things like, "Will you die before me?" When I tell her that I prefer to die before her, she doesn't like that either. So then I try to be truthful with her without sounding too dreadful, so I just explain to her that as long as we take care of ourselves, most likely we will live long, full lives and will be ready to die when the time comes. But I have never hidden from her the fact that every living thing dies - I've just tried to make her understand that it is not something one should constantly worry about. I tell her that if she does worry all the time, then she won't be living her life the way she should and she won't get the most out of it or enjoy it at all. She seems to understand this and it seems to help her feel better. She is still a very paranoid child - probably more than most kids her age. She's just very sensitive to the harsh realities of life I guess. She's very curious about death and stories on the news that she might happen to see while walking in the room, etc. Just thought I'd share my experience after reading your post. Death is just something that is inevitable, so therefore it's hard to make a child see it in a good light when there's nothing you can do about it! They look to us to make them feel better, to tell them there is no monster under the bed, etc. So when we don't tell them what they want to hear, like death is NOT going to happen, it's difficult to console them I guess. I just try to make my daughter understand (in a way that a 6-yr old can) that it doesn't make sense to think about it all the time and upset yourself - otherwise life is meaningless in that aspect. Good luck to you!!