39 answers

Explaining Death to a Three Year Old

My son just turned three and we are faced with the decision on how to explain that his great grandmother will be passing away very soon. He has been very close to her since birth and he loves her very much. He has been up to the hospital several times since she has been sick but we were just given the horrible news that she only has a few days to live. We are religious and believe in life after death but I am not sure how to explain the concept of heaven to him. I know he will want to go there and see her. I am planning on taking him to the hospital today, not really for him to say goodbye (because I don't think he would understand that) but more for him to see her one more time. She isn't very conscious due to the morphine. I am just worried that at the funeral when he looks into her casket that he will try to "wake" her up. Any suggestions would be so helpful.

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I think kids understand more about Heaven than we do. Explain that she is going there, and she'll be very happy. Tell him how she'll never get sick or have limitations. Let him know that we all will go there when Heavenly Father is ready to take us home, and if we've lived a good life.

Leo Busgaglia has a great book called " Fall of Freddie the Leaf" It explains death and Life cycles in a kid story fashion. S.

I am so sorry you have to go through this. My children were young when my grandma passed away. I got the book by Maria Shriver "What is Heaven?"
It's a very good book for kids-and I still have it and read it to my son when my father passed away last year. It's not based on one religion or one set of views-so it's great for anybody.
Good luck, and again I'm sorry.
L.

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I am sorry to hear about your grandmother. My grandmother passed when my daughter was three also. I really do not think a child of that age can grasp the concept of dying and heaven. We kept it very simple, and then as she's gotten older we expand on it. We just told her that GG went to heaven. For a year, that was good enough until she started asking if we could go visit her in heaven. She was older, so I could explain more. I just hope you can find a way, with your own religious beliefs, to keep it simple and satisfactory for your daughter. I know around the age of 4, a lot of kids get a huge fear of death, so if she knows too much she may develop a fear that you or your husband are going to die too.
For my sister and I (she had a 4 year old at the time of our grandmother's death) we chose to not take them to the funeral. We felt it was not appropriate to take a small child even thought it was close family. We just thought that we wanted all the memories that our daughters had of their GG to be good, not scary. And, I do think there is a chance your child could be scared at a funeral. My sister took her daughter to the visitation, though, because the atmosphere was very calm and more informal. That's just something to think about as your prepare for some tough days ahead.
P.S. There is a wonderful poem that was read at my grandmother's funeral that was really fitting since she died on 12/12. For Christmas, I found an ornament that could hold a piece of paper, and put the poem on it. I gave it to my mom and said it was from grandma. It gave us all so much comfort through the first holiday without her. I hope it will for you and your family as well:

I'm Spending Christmas with Jesus Christ this Year

I see the countless Christmas trees,
Around the world below.
With tiny lights, like heaven's stars,
Reflecting on the snow.

The sight is so spectacular,
Please wipe away that tear.
For I'm spending Christmas,
With Jesus Christ this year.

I hear the many Christmas songs,
That people hold so dear.
But the sounds of music can't compare,
With the Christmas choir up here.

For I have no words to tell you,
The joy their voices bring.
For it is beyond description,
To hear the angels sing.

I can't tell you of the splendor,
Or the peace here in this place.
Can you just imagine Christmas,
With our Savior, face to face?

I'll ask Him to light your spirit,
As I tell Him of your love.
So then pray one for another,
As I lift your eyes above.

Please let your hearts be joyful,
And let your spirit sing.
For I'm Spending Christmas in Heaven,
And I'm walking with the King.

~© Wanda Bencke ~

3 moms found this helpful

I'm not sure what's best for a 3 year-old...but I remember an image from long ago that I really loved. (Probably for older kids as I think about it.)
When you put your hand in a leather glove and move it around, a child knows it is you working the glove. When you take it off, it still holds the shape and looks like you. But you are not there any more...just the glove.
Prayers for you too in this difficult time.

1 mom found this helpful

My condolences to you and your family regarding your grandmother too.
I personally am not certain about taking a 3 year old to a funeral. Just because it can stir up some pretty confusing and scary thoughts of his grandma going into the ground.
When they are older of course taking them makes sense for closure.
Be honest with him, she got very sick and the Drs were not able to fix her. Explain she had a good long life and that very rarely does anyone get sick and die. If you are religious you can explain God takes away those that are very sick to give them a better life in heaven.
I explain heaven to my kids as a place of peace, where people are happy and healthy and God can oversee them. I told them that God takes people/pets and makes them angels to help us down here on earth. Whether they absorbed it all or completely understood I am not certain. It did help them a lot to be honest and have some clear rationalizing for the death of their pet though and they accepted it well.

Let him ask questions according to what thoughts are going on in his head. It may come out at bizarre times.
I can say my kids were 16 mos and 3 1/2 when our dog died. It was hard to explain to my youngest but with my older one I told her the same scenario with God and told her that we just couldn't fix our dog to where she would be happy here on earth.
There were questions probably for a year later on, just pieces popping up as it came into their minds. My son even asked questions when he was more aware around three.

When I was 11, my little brother died. He was 8. It was very hard on me to understand, I had a lot of anger because nobody would talk to me about it. I remember even at the age of 11 the funeral being the worst of it all. It took me years before I was ready to ask questions again and get them answered so I had peace.

At 3 a child won't remember a lot later on. I personally think just whatever way you can explain it to him so he doesn't have fear of being sick and dying or being put into the ground. Never say "sleeping" or God took her persay but telling him that sometimes people's bodies when they are older don't recover like when they are younger.
I have no easy answer for you. Just honesty at his level and answer any and all questions.

My heart goes out to you. Right before my son turned three his beloved Papa tragically passed away in a car accident; although he was also diagnosed with a terminal brain tumor. My son was not aware of the brain tumor -- mostly because we didn't know timing and had not really come to grips with the idea -- regardless we had to tell my son and it was the MOST heartbreaking thing I've ever had to do in my life. Oddly enough my son had been asking about death (my mom's cat had passed away about a year prior)so the concept was not new to him but he sort of understood and as time has gone by he understands. Much of what you choose to tell your child will depend on your belief system. My son went ot the memorial service, he understood it was a time to say goodbye and celebrate Papa's life. He didn't cry or talk about it for months but eventually he did. I'd say the most important thing is for you to not hide your own grief (when it happens) and to rememember the good things. I still plan to create an album of photos of papa for James to have. When they do ask questions answer them as honestly has you can and encourage them that it's okay to be sad and to miss them.

This month is Papa's birthday month.. he LOVED his birthday and we are having a birthday dinner for him.

Good luck!

My father-in-law passed away at home last year. He had been in hospice care ,at home, and we spent nearly a week at their home before he passed. Our children were in and out of the room the whole time. My second son was almost two at the time and was not frightened in the least, not while he was living nor after he passed. In fact he said the biggest and loudest good-bye that touched everyone else in a very emotional and profound manner. If your son understands good-bye let him know it is time to say that to his grandmother and, although it will be a while until you see her again, she will be waiting excitedly for that day. We also took our son to the funeral as well as the interment. He was never frightened of anything that was going on. Your son will feed off of the emotions that the adults are showing which is why you should explain to him why people are sad and why we practice what we do when people have passed away. Children can comprehend more than we give them credit for, just not in the same way that we do. Be honest with him about what is happening and what will happen soon. Knowledge will keep the fear away, lack of knowledge may bring on fear. Missing his grandmother is a natural feeling that he should be allowed to feel. If we are allowed to feel these feelings as children we are better prepared and able to deal with them as adults.

I'm very sorry to hear about your grandma's death. I just lost my 99 year old Grandmother last december, and it was very sad or both me and my boys. I told them that she was very, very old, and that her body stopped working properly. I said that although we would miss her, she would be in heaven where her body would work just fine again.

I really liked the analogy another poster mentioned about the seasonal flowers, and that sounds like a good idea. My only other suggestion is that you not allow your son to see the body - that is too traumatic for many adults, much less a young child. Plus, is that the last picture of her that you want him to have in his mind? Also, it is not always a good idea to ask children to sit through adult things (like a funeral) would it be better for him if you and your husband created a special good-bye ceremony in your back yard? Just a thought. Hang in there!

There a books out there just for small ones to understand about death. I would go to the library and search or ask when you go. Your little one will suprise you. They will make you laugh when you want to cry because they are so innocent.If you tell him the angels will come and carry you up to heaven when it is time then that is what he sees (he might even draw you a picture). Their minds are so open and their hearts so pure that if you let them be a part of things they will do amazing things. My son was 2 when my dad died and he would say the cutest things about angels and heaven that it made it me wish I could look at things like a child all the time. My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family. Let your little man be the joy and happiness even with sorrow.

B.- I'm so sorry to hear about your grandmother. Death is a very hard concept for adults - how is a child to understand, right?

My daughters best friend died from a terrible accident when she was 5 years old. I did not take her to the funeral but, I did talk to her about it. I explained that sometimes people and animals die. They go to heaven and wait for everyone else. I told her that her friend could play with grandma and our deceased cat until we got there.

She was very quiet for a few days but, than began asking questions and I answered them honestly.

I took my daughter to my grandmother's funeral when she was three- she did not understand what we were doing. She was not upset and it actually kept me from being upset. I would try to explain that there will be sad people saying good-bye to great grandma and talking about how wonderful her life was. Maybe say-someday we will see her again. My daughter does not remember my grandmother or the funeral. I think your child will give you cues- don't push the sadness onto him- three year olds do not understand permanancy.

Best wishes-H.

I think a 3-yr-old child is too young for a funeral...it's just not necessary for a baby to attend. Please don't subject your son to the stress and sadness this event will entail.
On a happier note, we talk about heaven all the time at our house. Our daughter just turned four, but she has always been excited to go to heaven to see Jesus. And yes, she does want to go right now, but she is learning that she has to wait until Jesus is ready for her. She used to cry, "I just want to go to heaven now!" whenever she was mad at me. She knows that only people who love Jesus get to go to Heaven, so every day she prays and asks Jesus to help her be nice and to forgive her sins so can someday live in her new home in Heaven. We will have everything we want and need when we are in heaven. We will talk with the Lord, sing for him, dance for him, and spend our days happily worshipping Him. We have discussed that our spirit goes to heaven and our body stays in the ground on earth. We won't need our bodies in Heaven because God will have perfect bodies for us. The spirit part gets kind of tricky, but...
We recently had a friend die of cancer. We told our daughter that he had been very sick and his body wasn't working very well. Because he loved Jesus, Jesus took him home to heaven so he didn't have to hurt or be sad any more.
Listen to some good Christian praise and worship music (both contemporary and traditional--our kids prefer upbeat contemporary Christian music). Discuss what the songs are talking about with your son. Most of the music talks about how great God is and how wonderful heaven will be. It is a relief when you find a Christian radio station you like because your kids can listen to it too, and you don't have to worry about them hearing something inappropriate. Especially if they have excellent memories and can repeat a song after hearing it only once...I'm so thankful that my daughter repeats Godly music rather than other stuff.
Pray every day with your son and encourage him to pray as well. My son is 16 mos. old. Every night, I sit him on his crib rail and pray with him before putting him to bed. I say, "Let's pray" and he folds his hands. My heart sang the first time he folded them on his own! Now he throws his hands up after "amen" and laughs, "praise the Lord!" I pray that my children's relationships with their Lord and Savior will continue to grow and that they will always love God. Help your son develop a relationship with Jesus and he will more easily understand and accept death because he can be happy for those who get to go to heaven before him. Make sure he understands that some day EVERYONE who loves the Lord will be together. He'll get to spend eternity (forever!!) with all the people he loves!
Prayers and condolences,
A.

I think you have already gotten a lot of really good advice on explaining death but I had to chime in. Please, if you take him to the funeral do not let him see Grandma in an open casket. Some people don't think it's a bad thing to see, but I am a grown woman who has a practical understanding of things and still have nightmares of my grandma lying in a casket. I was even old enough to understand but it was really that disturbing to me. I took my kids to their great grandfather's funeral and they did just fine. We just stayed outside during the earlier viewing and talked about all the great things we would miss and then they closed the lid and we went in for the service. It was a much healthier and less traumatic event for them. Even I made it through without a panic attack.

My heart is breaking for you!! You'll be missing someone very special, too. I will tell you that the best thing you can do is tell him...in terms you know he will understand and cry and let him see you cry and tell him why. He will probably be sad for you.

There are several good books out for children, but my favorite is called The Fall of Freddie the Leaf by Leo Buscaglia. Another is called the Next Place that I Go (I don't know the author--sorry). These books are both great for children.

My children have both been exposed to several passings of dear family members and friends and they have learned form a very young age (my oldest was 3 1/2 the first time), and he knew Grandpa was gone, went to the funeral, saw his body, everything. Then later as he digested all of this info, he would ask my hubby and I questions at the strangest times and sometimes things we never thought to explain to him.

Just be up front with him, let him see the grieving process and the healing process. You will be amazed--children are so compassionate and loving and resilient. Use this special time to help him grow. Blessings to you and your family!

I don't remember how old my daughter was when her great-great grandmother passed away (she's 8 now). She cried off and on for a wholel week.I remember being so upset and of course she picked up on that as well but I told her that grandmother had gone to live with Heavenly Father back in Heaven. She didn't know anything about dying but she did know that she wouldn't be able to see her again. I told her that grandmother was now in Heaven helping watch over us. I told her that we are all here to learn and to grow and to try new things. I told her that grandmother had learned everything she needed and that she lived a good life with us and it was time for her to go. I really don't know how much she understood but she was okay with it. She didn't ask too many other questions afterward.

I read your question the other day and was thinking about how hard that would be today I came across a book...I haven't read it or anything yet but I thought of you and your post so I thought I would share it.
Why Do People Die?: Helping Your Child Understand with Love and Illustrations
Cynthia MacGregor
Maybe your local library has a copy you could borrow.

Leo Busgaglia has a great book called " Fall of Freddie the Leaf" It explains death and Life cycles in a kid story fashion. S.

Since your son has been very close to great-grandma since birth, he will need some way to say good-bye, whether its at the funeral (and I understand everybody's concerns there) or at the grave, or a picture or something. Maybe he could draw a special picture for her to 'give' her (put at the gravesite maybe).

As far as talking about death, I would start sharing your beliefs in death and heaven with him. Every religion believes a bit differently, but this is how we taught our kids: We showed them a glove and told them thats like our body. When our hand (our spirit) is in the glove, it can move around and do things - like us being alive. When we die, our spirit leaves our body just like taking the hand out of the glove. The body (glove) stays here but the spirit (hand) goes back to live with Heavenly Father and Jesus. He may not get it completely right at first, but a visual demonstration may help. And when he asks about grandma you can remind him of the glove.

He's going to go through some adjustments. Especially since they've been close. I would expect some behaviors and skills to regress for a while - to about 6 months ago level. Be patient, give him lots of time to talk about it, and let him know it's ok to cry. He will need to work out his grief in his own way. Kids his age still greive, they just have a harder time expressing it, so you will need to help him find the words and such.

My sypmathies are with you in this challenging time. May the Lord bless you and your family with his comfort.

My two are very comfortable with death and the cycle of life (just 3 and 4.5 years.) they have both attended early development schol at a farm and we go there often. That is a great place to start. Of course it isn't birthing season but there are a lot of pumpkin farms and stuff with animals. We talk about plants and animals dying and recycling. we call it 'falling away into the earth." All things, fall away as part of the life cycle. People die too and then there is a baby born. I have also talked to mine about souls and that the body is seperate. It is only the body that gets sick and falls away into to earth. A soul can live on in our hearts...etc.

B.,
I am so sorry to hear about your impending loss. It's hard for adults to lose a loved one. How much harder for a little one to understand. There are some great children's book about death and help explain through a story. Some titles are: The Fall of Freddie the Leaf; Heaven by Maria Shriver, and many others. You may be able to find these at your library. Also, I am a chaplain with The Denver Hospice. We have a children's grief program called Footprints. You could also get some information there ###-###-####. As you prepare your 3 year old for the funeral, give him some choices. If he doesn't want to go at all, find a babysitter. If he doesn't want to look in the casket, don't force it. I just took my 6, 5 and 3 year olds to a funeral where the casket was open. My older two wanted to see, but my 3 year old didn't express any interest. My 5 year old asked if it was a statue. I am sure you will do just fine in explaining this all to your son. Lean on your faith and share it with him. God bless you all at this difficult time. C. M.

We had a funeral for my grandfather when my son was little. The mortician used a glove to explain that our body is like the glove, when it is laying with nothing in it it can't move or do anything. When you put your hand in the glove then it can move around. He then explained that when our spirit goes into the body then it makes the body move and is alive. Explain that even when the spirit leaves the body and goes to Heaven that the spirit is still alive in Heaven, but that Grandma's body no longer works. We also talked about how Heaven is far away and even though grandmas spirit is alive their but we can't go and see her until our spirit leaves our body.

I hope this helps it really helped my children. I think it is better for them to know that this life has many stages and if you believe in Heaven then you need to let them know that your spirit still lives there and that we can still progress and see our loved ones after this life is over.

Good Luck

B., I am so sorry to hear of this loss in your life. I too am going thru this what to tell my child when Granny dies. My thought is let your child lead the discussion. I think our children understad more than we give them credit. If you dont allow him to grieve you are doing him an injustice. We all need to grieve the loss of our loved ones.

We recently had a death in our family and my kids went to the viewing and funeral. My cousin was lying in the casket and I didn't want my 3 year old to see the body. She is curious and saw him. She asked, "Mom is he sleeping?" I used her words to describe what was happening. She understood sleeping so I told her that he was sleeping w/ God and that he was not alive anymore. I too have a terminally ill Granny and we pray for her to get better. When the time comes and she passes away, I will tell my kids the same thing. Granny is sleeping w/ God. We wont be able to see her anymore but she is with God now so we can be happy for her. Do you remember when you and Granny were laughing when she tickled you...

Answer you sons questions, allow him to grieve grandma, and let him know she is w/ God.

I pray for you and your family at this time. Death is a part of living, it is to be honored. Honor Grandma and your son's relationship, not very many people can say they had a great grandma to love.

Good luck and many prayers.
A.

I've not had to deal with this personally, but I was just at Tattered Cover bookstore yesterday and noticed that they had several books on the subject. I would call the store on Colfax Ave and ask to talk to someone in the Children's area and see what they would recommend. Good luck!

There's also a great book called, "Nana Upstairs, Nana Downstairs"- great-gma, who the child is very close to, dies. It's very sweetly done.

I have used this book with preschoolers that I taught and it seemed to help. Be ready for lots of questions and give honest answers. Children are just like adults in that they grieve at their own pace. Be patient, give him lots of love and assurance. Good luck you and your family are in my prayers.

The book is "If I Should Die, If I Should Live" by Joanne Marxhausen. Here is the amazon link:

http://www.amazon.com/If-I-Should-Die-
Live/dp/0570077931/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1224186112&sr=1-1

Also, funerals aren't necessarily bad things for children to go to. When my husband's grandmother died this past Thanksgiving all the grandchildren and great grandchilden were there. It is important for them is see families helping each other through tough times. It also provides closure for children just like it does for adults. Each child is different if you think yours can handle it it may be good to have him there.

I bet there are good children's books on the subject that explain it well for little ones. Look on Amazon or at your local library. Otherwise, you could compare Great Grandma to a flower in your yard--my friend did this for her daughter when their dog died. She told her, "Do you remember the flowers we planted last spring? WHen summer was over and it got cold out, they went away." Then she explained how everything has a time when it goes away, and this was their dog's time to go away. It was a pretty basic comparison that was easy for her daughter to understand. You could also plant a perennial or a tree for great Grandma--something that comes back in the spring--to help your son remember that his great grandma is living on somewhere else now.

i'm so sorry about your grandmother, i know it must be a difficult time. (been there)(am there) don't worry about your little boy, he'll be ok, you said you were religious. just tell him that the lord didn't want your grandma to be sick anymore so he took her somewhere where HE could take care of her. at that age i'm not sure i would take him to the funeral, in facing a similar situation, not willing to take my own three little ones(4,2,1) to a funeral service. let him say goodbye because grandma will be leaving to go stay with Jesus soon, and it will be a very long time before he see's her again.
good luck and God Bless

You will just have to explain to him that great grandmother is really sick and that she will be going to heaven and won't be in pain anymore. After she is gone that we won't be able to see her but she will be in our hearts. And that she will be looking over him from heaven. It is really hard for the kids but if you keep talking about heaven he will start to understand. As for the funeral, I know that we have in past had a close Aunt that passed away and all my sisters kids and cousins kids were very young. The funeral home asked that the family come 1 hour before the viewing so they could help the younger kids understand what was going on. They explain that the person is no longer with us and they show them the whole body and let them to touch them. I think it really helps out when they do something like that. So when the time comes you might check with the funeral director. I am so sorry you have to go through this but time will pass. I hope all is well.

I know a year is a big difference between 2 and 3, but I'm not sure that conceptually he can understand death itself. But my daughter is 2 and my husband's father recently passed, very suddenly. I found that I was able to just not mention it and she was ok, but probably only because we don't ever see them often.

I would suggest not talking about death but about the consequences. Talk about people being sad. Talk about grandma being gone. let him know that its not his fault people are sad. Let him know there will be lots of crying, and that he will meet a lot of people that he doens't know. Tell him its ok to be sad when he doesn't get to see grandma, and that its ok to talk to you. That its ok that people are crying and its ok if he doesn't want to talk to/socialize with any of them. I personally don't go for the religious route as an adult, but I find that the concept of heaven works for kids because its a concrete place. That obviously wont work if it doesn't fit with your beliefs, but give that or something similar a try.

Personally, I woudn't let him see her open casket. Frequently the casket is moved from the viewing at hte entry to the front of the service....so keep him away. I think it would be very hard for him to understand that its grandma but not really there. I think it can be easily avoided and would probably be best for him. Just IMHO though. Good luck, and take care of yourself too!

I have a really good book. It is called "What Happens When Poeple Die?" it is written by Timothy Robinson, it is a Deseret Book book. if you want more info feel free to email me ____@____.com helped with my small children.

If yoor child tries to ake her up, do not stress it. Just quitly explain, poeple understand.

I glanced through the responses to see if this book had been mentioned, but I didn't see it. I'm sorry if I'm repeating something that someone else has already suggested.

When we went through a similar experience, we bought "What's Heaven?" by Maria Shriver. It was perfect for our situation (also a great grandmother passing away).

I know some people who have responded have strongly said that they wouldn't let the child see the loved one in the casket. I feel the opposite way. I think seeing them in the casket shows that what's left there is just the "shell," that the spirit/soul that made the person who we knew is not there any more. I felt that it made it easier for us.

Good luck to you! Death of a loved one is a very difficult thing for any of us to deal with, but especially children who don't have a full understanding.

I'm sorry for what you are going through. I would explain to him that grandma is going to take a very long trip because she is going to visit God. We will see her someday, but we don't know when that will be. I would avoid taking him to the funeral, since there will be people crying and that will give him a hint as to how to behave.

I am so sorry you have to go through this. My children were young when my grandma passed away. I got the book by Maria Shriver "What is Heaven?"
It's a very good book for kids-and I still have it and read it to my son when my father passed away last year. It's not based on one religion or one set of views-so it's great for anybody.
Good luck, and again I'm sorry.
L.

The simpler the better, I like the seasonal idea also, but I do want to say that my kids went to my grandmas funeral, they were extreemly close at about the age of your son, and I had some of the same concerns about it being an open casket, we brought them in first and I asked if they wanted to go see grammy one last time, and they did, and we kissed her good bye and they rubbed her cheek, my grandma's was VERY unexpected, so I didn't get to prepare them as well as I would have liked, but they did really well, if it had been anyone but her, I don't know that I would have taken them. But to this day, 12 years later my kids remember it and they remember it as a positive expierience. Choice is up to you, bit I haven't regretted it.

I am very sorry to hear about grandma though!

First off I would not let your child see her in the casket. I just don't think that at that age it is something he should see and can effect him later on down the road. AND because he can't understand it will make it worse.

As for how to tell him, I just think you talk about heaven and what a beautiful place it is and just all the normal things you would tell him about heaven. You won't be able to make him understand why he can't go now and where it is per say, but that is kinda out of your hands.
Do your best to paint a pretty picture of it all and how happy she is to be in heaven and how much she loves and misses him and how one day he will see her again.

Give him pictures to look at and have him pray and he can talk to her. I used to do that with my grandad. I would talk to God and say "can I talk to my grandpa now" and then I would just start to rattle off. Made me feel good I guess :)
It will be hard but do your best to make him see it as a beautiful thing...

AND really please don't take him to see her in the casket! I would actually leave him at home. I don't think it is a memory he needs to be honest!

I think kids understand more about Heaven than we do. Explain that she is going there, and she'll be very happy. Tell him how she'll never get sick or have limitations. Let him know that we all will go there when Heavenly Father is ready to take us home, and if we've lived a good life.

You have gotten some great advice, and I hope that you are able to explain to your son from you heart in the best way that you can. One thing I leared when I was a victim's advocate: please don't tell you son that GG is sleeping or that she fell asleep and went to God, or anything like that related to sleep. Children can develop a deep fear of falling asleep if they think that by doing so they are going to end up not waking up or going to God away from their mommy and daddy.
Blessings and warm thoughts your way,
S.

He's too young. I wouldn't do anything. You'll only make him upset. You could just tell him she went to heaven. I'm sorry for your loss.

First, I wouldn't take him to the funeral. I think it is a little traumatic for a 3 yr old to see a dead body. As he gets older and understands death, then he can start going to funerals. That's just my opinion on that. However, I have had to explain death to my little kids several times. It started with our family cats. We believe in God and Heaven, so, we explained that their bodies are in the ground, but their souls (hearts to little children) are in Heaven. Then my Grandpa died. We explained that PawPaw is in Heaven with God, Claude and Misty, our cats, and one day when our bodies can't work anymore, we will go to Heaven to see God, PawPaw, Claude and Misty. As they get older the list will get bigger, but we wanted them to understand that everyone dies, and we don't want them to be afraid. You just have to frame it in terms that a 3 yr old can understand. You can also tell your little one that if he ever wants to talk to his Great Grandma, you will take him to the cemetery and she will hear him. Our kids know that if they are ever sad, or just have something they want to tell Claude and Misty, the cats, they just have to sit in the yard and talk. I'm sorry to hear you will be losing your Grandmother. I am very close with mine as well, and can't imagine life without her. Take Care.

I would talk to him and explain your beliefs to him. I would take him to the funeral because death is part of life. Birth happens and so does death. He will talk about it for a long time and just keep talking. It is a process that is part of life. We all need to learn about life and death.

Sorry about your Grandma but you will all be in heaven together one day.
C. B

We just had to explain the concept of death to my four year old, although it was for a different reason. We lost a dog. But what seemed to work well with her was telling her that our dog had a spirit that lived inside his body. It was what made him bark, breathe, move, and do the things dogs do. When he died, his spirit went to live in heaven, and we buried his body in the ground. That's why she can't see him physically anymore. But his spirit is alive and living with God. We also said that when she gets really old and her body dies, her spirit can go live in heaven with God and with our dog's spirit too. That's when she'll get to see him again. That seemed to help her understand that he is gone physically and she can't see him anymore, but that he's okay and living with God in a better place where he didn't have to be sick or feel bad, and where he could roam around without a fence or a leash. I know that's more geared toward a dog, but you could explain that his great grandmother will no longer be sick or feeling bad, or whatever challenges she had in her life while he knew her. Anyway. Hope that helps a little. Good luck with it and I'm sorry for your situation. Losing a loved one is so very hard.

My uncle passed away when my daughter was 2 1/2. It was sort of sudden in that we had seen him in good health and spirits just 2 weeks before he had a heart attack, however, he did have a history of heart condition. We were really pretty honest in that we explained that he has died and that we won't be able to ever see him with our eyes anymore. But now he was even closer in that he was watching over us and in our hearts/thoughts more now that he had passed. We still mention him and she knows that he has died, but we had tried to not be sad FOR him, but for everyone that can't know him anymore. I think be honest with your feelings, show that it is OK to be sad, but that also (especially if your grandmother has been sick) that she isn't anymore, that she is healthy where she is, misses him, but is watching over your son. I am sorry for this challenge and to lose a loved one for anyone is a difficult time.

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