24 answers

What to Say After an Accident??

I need some advice on how to make my daughter know everything is going to be ok. Last Saturday my mom and dad were in a very bad motorcycle accident.My dad is pulling through and making a very speedy recovery. My mom on the other hand had a head trauma and has some bleeding in the brain and the doctors say it just a waiting game from here. She has not fully woke up since the accident, but has kinda been awake here and there. She trys to talk but sometimes we dont always understand what she is saying. My thing now is, my 5 year old daughter was with my mom and dad everyday while I worked they are her best friends. I try to tell her that they are going to be all right and that my mom says she loves her and will see her soon. But she is scared, understandably so.She dont understand everything that is going on.Her whole life at this point has changed and will never be back to normal for her. We were in the middle of moving when we got the call, so now she is trying to adjust to a new home as well. I have to put her into a daycare and we are not sure how long of a recovery it will take for either of them at this point. They both are going to learn how to walk agian. I guess my question is how do I make things better for her. I try to stay upbeat and keep her busy thinking about other things. I bought a poster board and am having her make a Get Well Soon card for everyone to sign, thinking that she will feel better if she has something for grandma when she gets to see her. I am at a loss of words with her at this point, I am struggling with this myself but trying not to show it to her.

What can I do next?

So What Happened?™

First I would just like to say Thank you to all of you who responded to my request. There was so many great responses, and I appreciate every one of them. A little bit of an update, my mom was moved out of ICU and into a regular room and I did take my daughter to see her and my dad as well. She was a little scared at first and still is, but she warmed up pretty quickly because of the closeness that she shares with my mother. She automatically started asking if she was ok and if she wanted some more ice and was trying to take care of my mom. It really helped my mom's condition as well to see my daughter. So I sat my daughter down and told her that grandma and papal are going to need a lot of help in the next couple months in getting better. I explained the accident to her and that everything looks like its going to be ok, but I couldnt promise her anything becuase God is the only one who knows what will happen in the future. She seems to be more comfortable with the situation, but is still very sad that she can not see them everyday as she would like. She is the sweetest little girl ever and she just wants to take care of everyone else.

More Answers

I agree you know your daughter best, but don't underestimate her. She may find it very helpful to see both of your parents while they are in the hospital. So many times we want to protect our children, but then all we leave them is their imaginations. They can imagine things as much worse than they really are You could take pictures of your parents to show her, and then ask if she wants to see them in person. She is already grieving a loss if she was used to seeing the every day, and now can't. Also, if prayer is an option for your family, it might help her to be able to pray for her grandparents, give her something she can do for them. Keeping her busy is a good idea, but not so busy that she gets the impression it's not ok to speak about her feelings, and that feeling sad or angry is bad. It is also ok to let her see your feelings of sadness, if you are always upbeat she will think there is something wrong with her feelings.
I understand this is a terrible time for your family, but she can get through it. My son was 4 when his father died. He had cancer, and died in our home. My son was there for every step of the way from death to funeral. He is now almost 6 and it does not appear to have scarred him to be so involved. Actually, Hospice was the one that made sure my son knew what was happening as my son was dying. We go to a kids support group called Brooke's Place, here in Indianapolis. One of the great things they have is a Volcano Room. There are phone books kids can tear up, and swim noodles they can hit the wall with. The kids love it! Gets their anger out in an acceptable way.
Good luck to your family.

1 mom found this helpful


I don't have any words of wisdom for you on this one. I just want to let you know that your whole family is in my prayers. Take care and please reach out to friends and family for the support that you need.



I think you got a lot of good answers here. The best thing is to tell the kids the truth . Then follow up with getting them to express their feelings.

T. http://www.castellilaw.com

You have said everything you can say to your daughter. I know it is hard. 5 year olds run with the Little Pitchers Have Big Ears saying. You may think she is in another room, listening to the television, etc., but every time you and someone else have a conversation about the accident, the condition of your parents, etc., she hears all of it.
Don't talk about it around her unless she brings it up. Help her finish the card and take it to her grandparents. Tell her they love her since most places will not allow children her age to visit the hospitals. If your father is up to talking to her let her talk to him on the phone.

I guess the best advise I can give you is not to lie to her about anything. If everything (the creator willing) works out fine then you have told her the truth, if everything does not work out fine then you told her lie and one she will remember for all of her life. It is better to tell her you don't know if everything will be fine then to tell her it will and then it isn't.

Not quite sure how to help on this one. The thing is that children, even that young, can sense trouble. My situation was a little different when my daughter was that age. I tried to stay possitive when I was with her, kept her busy with all sorts of projects, got her involved as much as possible. My situation was that my husband walked out before she was 2 and my uncle whom I was very close to and saw all the time was in the hospital, heart, like your Mom is and he died a couple days after her 3rd birthday. It's rough on everyone. I will say a prayer for your family and do hope that your Mom gets better soon.

I can say I truly know what you are going thru. My parents were in a bad motorcycle accident last august. they were hit by a semi both survived (thank the lord!!!) dad was in hospital for a very long time then rehab center which he just got out of two weeks ago and my mom lost her leg below the knee so had to deal with all of that and I have a 4 year old you is papa's side kick. we live with my parents so not having them here was very hard on him. I not sure what exactly to say but be honest and explain as much as she understands. try to keep her life as normal as poosible I reelize that is hard with everything but at least make a new norm have a pretty steady routine and if your dad is able let her talk to him on the phone and he can say me and grammy are ok grammy just has to stay inthe hospital so the drs can take very good care of her type thing. best of luck and prayers go out to you it is a very hard thing to deal with your parents being so bad and taking care of your children.

Hi M.,

Firstly, my prayers are with your mom and dad, and I hope they are both fully recovered soon. We had to deal with similar issues when my father had a severe stroke 2 yrs ago. The best thing to do is to be honest, but don't go in to great detail about what is happening. Keep things very simple, saying that grandma's head was bumped really hard, and that it can take a long time for it to get better, and that it might affect other parts of her body (legs, talking, etc.). The Get Well card is a great idea - it will help her feel like she is doing something to help. She can draw special pictures every week if she likes. Keep a routine going as much as you can, and reassure her that things will be ok. Lots of extra hugs help too! Good luck to you and your family.

I'm not sure there is anything else you can say other then keep letting her know everything will be ok. There may be some good books or movies out there to help w/ the situation too though. As silly as it sounds... my 5 yr old has found it easier to deal w/ death after watching "All Dogs go to Heaven" a thousand times! LOL. He knows that they go to heaven and is ok w/ that. Maybe there is something like that that deals w/ recovering from accients or health issues... or even just big changes. Hopefully being in a daycare will help keep her mind off of things since she will be around other kids. I wish you all the best w/ your family. Your parents will be in my thoughts & prayers. Good luck!

Hello M.,
My thoughts and prayers go out to you and your family. I know what a difficult time this is on you and your family. Our son suffered a tramatic brain injury on his dirtbike so I know first hand all the emotions that go with that type of injury. I agree that telling your daughter the truth is important. Children are very cognisent of what is going on and do need to be reassured. Being a caregiver of a tbi survivor I know there are no medical answers to your mother's condition. Every tbi patient recovers differntly so they truly can not give much help or addvice. It really is a wait and see type of thing. Just be prepared for yourself as well as your daughter(and all)that a tbi survivor will never be the same person you knew before the accident. If you ever need any help or advice in this area please feel free to e-mail at ____@____.com I can help in any way in what you may have to go through during your mom's recovery - don't hesitate to ask. This will be a very trying time on all. As for helping your daughter to understand and feel a part - just keep her envovled with as much info you think necessary. Have her make cards for her so she can give them her at the right time. Do you have a carepage yet? This has been a tremendous comfort and sorce of help for us. We have a carepage titled Jaymz3 if you would like to try it out. I really sugjest carepages to anyone going through any type of medical crisis. We will say extra prayers for you and your family.
Take care

I would suggest telling her the truth, in words she can understand like "Gramma and Grampa were in a motorcycle accident, it is nobodys fault, but they are going to be different (for lack of a better word) for a while. The doctors are trying to help them feel better and while they're working on that you will need to go to this daycare during the day, etc." Make sure she knows it's OKAY to be scared or sad, and you feel the same way. I truly believe that honesty is the best policy. If there is ANY chance that one of them (your mom) might not make it, tell your daughter that Gramma might be going to heaven (or wherever), but we can pray/hope for the best, and take her in to say goodbye.
My husbands Grandfather passed away last August, we knew it was coming and of course took the kids in to see him, one at a time, to say goodbye. I think it helped both the children and him to let go.

I know this must be hard on you, since you are worrying about both your parents and your daughter, don't forget to love yourself too during this tough time. My thoughts and prayers are with all of you.

I am so sorry that you are going through this. It has to be hard. I really don't have any words of advice except that my daughter (step, her biological mom died when she was 5) went through a similar thing with her mom passing. I just want to tell you that children are soooo much more resiliant than we are. This may be very hard for her, but she will be fine and move forward. It has been 3 years now for my girl and she is very happy and leads a full life. Time DOES heal all wounds.
I will keep your mother and father and you in my prayers. I hope that you can find peace.

Hi, M. --

Wow, you are really going through it, aren't you? What strikes me most is how little you mention the toll this must be taking on you and immediately how concerned you are for your daughter. You sound like the kind of selfless Mom that my Mom is, and that's a beautiful thing. She had me at about the age you were when you had your daughter, and as a mother now myself, I am amazed at how much wisdom she had for such a young person! Sounds like you do, too!

When things like this happen in life, there are so many differnt perspectives to take. Many people would get stuck with the "why did this have to happen to my parents," but your focus is truly the best. I am sure it's very difficult for you to stay upbeat, and I admire you very much for your wisdom.

I think if I were in your situation, I would gently tell my daughter the truth -- that things may be very different than they were before the accident, so that she is prepared for that. That said, though, I would tell her that her grandparents love her so much and that now is her chance to help them get better by giving them her love in whatever ways she can. Even if your mother is not able to recover to her former self, your daughter's love for her will be important through this process. It's a lot to ask of a little girl, but it's also empowering for kids to know that what they have to give to the people they love is SO important. Even though it can't be seen, I believe it can work miracles.

It's said that the words we speak can create positive or negative vibrations and that the way we react to things external to us actually manifest themselves in us. So, the more you can focus on the positive and speak the positive, the more you will help yourself, your daughter, and your parents. Just focus on the love you feel, and help her to focus the love she feels toward your parents and assure her that, whatever comes, she is filling their lives with the very best she has to give them and nothing's better than that.

I wish you all the best, and I will pray for your parents, too.

Take care,

Hi M.,
I am very sorry for your troubles. I went through something similar. My daughter was 8 when my dad died in an accident. We were moving from St. Louis to Cincinnati the week of the accident. The funeral was in Iowa--in all a very bad situation. Five-year-olds are very bright. No doubt she is picking up on your anxiety, which is understandable. You are suffering as well. I think you are doing the right thing to keep her busy; I also think it's OK to give her bits of the truth. As much as we want to protect our children from the harsh realities of life, I think that this is an opportunity to ease her into the fact that sometimes things happen and we just don't know why. You might tell her that Grandma needs to sleep right now, and you want to let her rest. It's the truth and will buy you some time. It's amazing what medical science can do! I admire you for your positive attitude. Don't forget to take care of yourself. Good luck!

I am so sorry for you. I will pray for you during this difficult time. As for your daughter, don't be afraid to show your emotions in front of her. You should probably go to your room if you are going to "break down", but don't put on a show for her that you don't cry or are angry or sad. A couple of years ago we lost several people in our family over a eight month time period. The grief and funerals were exhausting, and sometimes my children would walk in and want to know why mommy was crying or praying kinda mad. I just explained that God always wants to know what we are feeling and that it is okay. Most the time they just walked away, but sometimes they would tell me how they were feeling. Be honest on a level she can understand and give her the ability to express herself in a constructive way. You could give her paper and markers (special ones just for her to draw with when she is upset), or a big stuffed toy or pillow, something she can hit when she is angry and squeeze when she wants to cry. Encourage her to pray or at least to talk to a close adult friend. She needs to know that it is okay to have feelings. If she is comfortable with it, get out picture albums, or have her help you put one together with pics of her and her grandparents. One of the hardest things for me when my grandmother died, was that no one would talk about her. It was so hard for everyone else that they didn't want to talk about her. I wanted to remember the good times, but they wanted to forget how hard it had been. To this day it is uncomfortable if the topic comes up, except with my sister. So make sure that you talk about the fun times and not just the recovery ahead or the potential loss.
As I am writing this I can't imagine how hard this is for you. Make sure that you take time for yourself and if necessar get a babysitter and get coffee with a friend or dinner with your fiance. You need to express yourself, too, or eventually you will shut down and be of no good to your daughter anyway.
Your family will be in my prayers.

I also want you to know that I'm praying for you and your family during this time. May the Lord grant physical healing for your parents, and emotional healing for you and the rest of your family.
I also encourage you to be honest with your daughter at a level she can understand. There are books at the library regarding situations like this that you could read to her. You may want to admit to her that you are also feeling scared, because that would help her to feel that it's ok for her to feel scared -- and it is!
It's difficult to be going through other transitions at a time like this, so it may make the emotional stress more difficult and it may last longer for all of you. Please give yourselves all time to adjust and heal and don't try to rush back into trying to feel "normal" (whatever that is).
May the Lord give you all strength. God bless.

Hi M.,
I am sorry to hear about your parents accident and pray that God will get you all through this time of trouble. Having your daughter create a Get Well Soon card is a fantastic idea. It definitely directs her attention elsewhere. You might even ask the daycare teacher if they could make this a class project as well. In my own experience (I have six kids) I have found that you have to be as honest with a child as their age will allow you to be. You said that your Mom's condition is touch and go but you are telling your daughter that she is going to be okay and will see her soon. You might want to consider telling her that she is very sick, that the doctors aren't sure if she is going to be okay and that you are asking everyone to pray for her or get her to focus mostly on your father since he is doing so well. My only thought in this situation is that if your mother doesn't recover (we will pray that she does) is that your daughter will think that you lied to her.
It is not necessarily bad that your daughter see that you are very upset about your parents being hurt because it will let her know how much they mean to you. We all try to shelter our children from pain but sometimes it is better to let them know we are hurting so they can help comfort us. It makes them feel important and needed. Above all, as long as she is leading the conversation let her talk about her own feelings about the entire situation the moving, daycare, and the accident.
When your parents do recover enough for her to see them it is important that she know they will probably not look quite the same as before and allow her to help with their recovery as much as is possible for her and she is comfortable with doing. She may be frightened the first time she sees them and may not want to stay, this is understandable. Again, because of her age, it might be better for her to not see them until they look relatively normal or at least are able to talk so that she can hear their voice and realize that it is them. If she doesn't want to get physically close to them then sit across the room with her on your lap if possible until she is more at ease. Granted if she is a shy child she may have more difficulty with this than if she is very outgoing simply because outgoing children seem to want to ask lots of questions even to a point of embarrassment for a parent.
Hang in there. Being a Mom is the toughtest job in the world and there is no manual to tell you just what to do. It is good that you are looking to others for help and I hope that in some small way I was able to do that for you. I will be the first to say that I don't know everything there is to know about raising children, even after six, because each child is different. You know your daughter better than anyone else and maybe by sifting through all of the responses to your questions you will find what works best for you and ultimately for her. God Bless You and your family and your upcoming wedding.


I am so sorry to hear of this tragic accident.

I don't have any advice, I just wanted to tell you that I will be praying for you, I can't imagine what you're going through....


The unfortunate thing is that your daughter will have to go through the feelings of loss and sadness while your parents are recuperating. I tried to keep my daughter from difficult feelings and tried to make everything better when we were going through a difficult loss in our family and was told by her pediatrician that after 3 years old they are capable and should go through the feelings because if not it teaches them to bottle things up. You are doing all the right things by having her make something and keeping her busy. Getting used to a new home can be difficult as well. Have you had the time for her to pick out her own paint colors for the room and make the room her very own? I noticed that helps a lot in adjusting to new things! The hardest thing is just letting them be upset because as moms we want to fix everything. The best thing to do is to stay close to her and explain that you stick together through everything and that she can come to you for anything. You hang in there and good luck with your parents and the new home.

I am so sorry for this situation! I agree with the many responses that you've gotten. Tell your daughter what's going on. Your daughter will take her cues from you. If you are authentic with her, she'll learn it's o.k. to be authentic, too. If you supress your feelings around her, she'll learn that is what she's supposed to do, too (maybe not now, but in the future). I also agree that she doesn't need to see you if you're having an especially rough moment, but don't act like everything is o.k. when it isn't. Explain to her that no matter what happens, everything will be o.k. at some point. It just may take a little while.

If she is allowed to visit them, I'd ask her if she wants to see them. If she does, tell her that they have owies which make them look different, and tubes helping them get better. Let her know what to expect, but I still think it's a good idea to let her see them. I remember when I was young and my grandparents were sick, I visited them in the hospital. It was a little strange to see them so vulnerable and with tubes everywhere, but I wasn't disturbed by it, and I know they appreciated it. Another thing we did for our grandma when she was in the hospital was to make a recording of us kids singing songs for her. My grandpa still has the tape. I didn't even remember it until he pulled it out a couple years ago (we made the tape in like 1985). If you have a video camara, you could have your daughter make a get-well video for them, too.

I wish your family all the best and a quick recovery for your parents!

It sounds like you are doing all you can to help your daughter. You might ask her if she has any questions. There could be things she is afraid of or doesn't understand. You might be able to help her with those questions and ease her fear. Keeping her distracted is also one of the best things you can do. I will pray for you and your family. God Bless You!

Hi M.,
I am so sorry to hear about the accident...and we will pray for your mom and dad to fully recover quickly. I can relate to some of what you are dealing with, and my heart goes out to you. We live around the corner from my parents' house, and while I am a SAHM, my children would see their grandparents nearly every day. My dad was diagnosed with cancer, and a month after he started treatment my mom became ill and spent the next 19 months in and out of comas, surgeries, hospitals and nursing homes, with a stint or 2 at home for a while. My son was 6 and my daughter was 4 at the time. Having your daughter make cards or pictures for her grandparents will help her feel like she is helping. My mom LOVED those things my children (and the other grandchildren) made for her and they really did bring a smile to her face and a light to her eyes. I know how hard it is to be dealing with this yourself and trying to comfort your children at the same time. We have a deep faith in God and so mostly we just prayed with our children about all of this, encouraged them to pray on their own any time, and tried to be sure they felt that they could ask questions of us. We also tried to make it clear that we couldn't predict the outcome, that we hoped for the best but would accept whatever God had in store for all of us. Make sure she knows how much her grandparents love her and how much joy she brings to them. She will be a great motivation for them in their recovery! It is also ok to tell her that you can't answer some of her questions, but that you want her to ask and you'll do your best to answer them. This is so much for her to deal with, and yet, children are often much better at dealing with things than we give them credit for. I wish you all the best!

She's old enough to have pretty big questions. Maybe the best bet is to tell her the truth and put accidents into terms she can understand.

They crashed the motorcycle. They were hurt. They are in the hospital/home getting better and their hurts are healing. It will take a while for them to get better. It's okay to be worried and sad. Grandma and grandpa need your prayers and see her pretty face. She can visit them and tell them how she feels, happy, sad, worried. Everyone gets hurt. Sometimes we heal just like we were before. Sometimes we change and can't move as fast as before. That's okay. Grandma and grandpa are the same people and love her just as much.

Let her make get well cards or talk to them on the phone or send video emails to them and email the message to a cell phone. Your daughter needs to find healthy ways to cope with sadness and worry. That is talking about it, praying, expressing her feeling through art like cards, expressing herself through music or voice like singing a get well song or leaving a get well message.

Hi M.,

First of all, I am so sorry to hear about the accident. How very difficult for your family. You are doing a great job handling it with the 5 year old. I think if she questions you about it, I would be honest with her. Grandma isn't going to jump right up and be "normal" right away. Head trauma can be very serious. She is old enough to understand it will be a long recovery. But I would encourage her to continue to be optimistic because that will be positive for your parents.

Let her know it is alright to be scared. I think this is an excellent learning oppertunity for her to see how you handle the situation. If you are sad, share that with her. If you need time to work your feelings out alone, allow yourself that time. But let her know that you are sad, and stressed andafraid, but that these feelings are all normal.

Best wishes. Your family is in my prayers!

Hi M..
Its good that your taking time to explain to her. But one thing is, is that emotionally it has stressed her dramatically. And every right so. I'm glad to hear that your parents are doing alright. Some people aren't as lucky. I will keep them in prayer. As for your daughter, just be there and let her know that they are thinking of her and miss and love her like you've been. You can let her make them get well cards and make them things so when they do get out they have something special and that she can be proud of. You can have her make them a book a memory book for your mom with extra special stuff made by and from your daughter. And let her read them to her grandparents. I lost my mother at age 10 and never understood the fact that I was never gonna see her or hear her ever again. The night she passed away my dad let us write a letter to her and God and he posted it on the refrigerator and told us that they will see it from heaven there. It made me feel okay enough to sleep that night, but unfortunatly I was expecting them to write back. I than learned that I wasn't ever gonna see my mom again, well not as I am living and only in my dreams do I. I felt 50 percent better when the kids in our school, in our class and at church had made us cards and letters to send their remorse. And it was like another way God was speaking to us. :) I hope this helps a little.

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