Talking to My Son About Death

Updated on May 01, 2007
V.F. asks from Radcliff, KY
10 answers

I have a 3 yr old son. My husband died when my son was only 10 1/2 months old. He doesn't remember his daddy. I have pictures and tell him stories about his daddy, he stays with his paternal grandparents when I work my part time job and so they tell about his daddy. He goes to the cemetary and tells people his daddy is in Heaven with mommy's daddy and grandma's cat that died last year. When he plays with his toys, he tells me who is the mommy, the daddy and the baby. He does this with everything, he must have a daddy figure with every toy. He asks me all the time if I'm going to heaven, I tell him not for a long long time but then he asks why daddy left. (My husband died of sudden cardiac arrest/viral pneumonia at 36 yrs old)What can I tell him? When is anything too much info? My friends think I should date, to have a "daddy" in my son's life. My husband was the love of my life and its been only 2 1/2 yrs since his death. Dating to have a "daddy" for my son feels wrong to me. Can anyone offer any advice on my son's questions about his daddy, his life and death?

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So What Happened?

I want to thank everyone for your responses. It's encouraging to hear from others that you are doing a good job. I hear praise from family and friends, but sometimes I feel like that's what family and friends should do, praise you and its not always enough. I think my son will have a understanding of death before many kids even older than him does now. I want my son to be proud of his daddy and when someone asks about his daddy, he can tell them what kind of a person his daddy was and that his daddy is looking out for him in Heaven. I know my husband would not have wanted me to be alone in life and when I'm ready, I will date again. I hope I can find a man that can love my son like his own but if it doesn't happen, my son will grow to be a strong man no matter what. Thank you again for your support and suggestions.

More Answers



answers from Indianapolis on

With your husband's parents in the picture (assuming grandpa spends lots of time with him, not just grandma) he is sure to get a positive male influence that he needs at his age. Dating before you are ready will cause more stress than good for you. When you are ready to date, wait to introduce BF to son until it's serious. Bringing men in and out of his life will just encourage the fear that men in his life leave. Once you have gone from "dating" to a relationship with a man, invite him to do family-like things while keeping separate time for mommy & me activities.
Hope that helps. Good luck!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Kokomo on

I haven't read the other responses yet V., but I have a similiar situation. I have 2 girls, 4 & 8 and I lost a girl in between. So talking about their sister is hard, awkward and funny sometimes. I think you just approach it don't really understand the GRIEF we adults go through, they just see what is does to your actions. So it's ok to be sad, or happy with him. Talk about him, much like you would any other person who is gone. Funny stories etc. As he gets older, he will understand more and will appreciate going fishing like daddy used to do, or to a certain resteraunt, because that's where daddy used to take mommy. Only you know when you are ready for a new man in your it for you, not your son. He obviously gets love from grandparents and if you are hooked up with a church, then he can spend some good time with other daddies there. Don't be afraid to ask another family to invite your son along for some male bonding time. It won't make him miss his daddy more or less, but learn that not every daddy some day, WHEN you find another man to love you two, he will realize he won't go away too! Good luck honey and let me know if I can be more of a sounding board too. I am in Kokomo also!



answers from Lexington on

I just wan to say God bless you and your little boy. I'm very sorry you lost your hubby at such a young age. It's wonderful that you have tried to make his daddy part of his life even though he is gone. When he asks you why , just tell him that his daddy was such a special person that God needed him in heaven to be a gaurdian angel. As far as dating is concerned...go ahead and date. I'm sure your late hubby would not want you to be lonely anymore. But do it for you...not just to find some one to play daddy. If a new "Mr. Right" comes along and loves you and loves and accepts your child, then that's a blessing, but don't make that a priority just yet.



answers from Indianapolis on

don't rush into a relationship to find a replacement. In time you will heal and feel like it is okay to move on. I have not lost my husband but I can only imagine that i would feel like i was cheating, if i wasn't ready to move on. I think it is great to share stories of daddy with your son. Rely on God to help you. He will show you the way! God Bless and good luck!



answers from Terre Haute on

V. my husband died in a fire a few years ago. Don't listion to all those who tell you what you "Ottar" do cause they don't know your feelings and your heart. you take your time greave and have fun with your son.
And for him just let your son know that his daddy is his gradian angle and is watching over him that is what we have done with my daughter and are still doing.
You may want to check into big brother/ big sister for him to get a male rolemodel or if you are lucky enuff to have a brother spend time with him. I know it will not be his daddy but it will be a male that your son can bond with and have fun with. I hope that this has helped some. Iff you need me i am here for you message me i will give you my phone number i can listion.



answers from Terre Haute on

I went to a seminar that covered this subject. The speaker (her name escapes me) was mainly saying to be honest and try not to say anything that would scare the child. An example she used was that saying God or the angels took your husband to heaven to be with them could make your some get mad at God or the angels for taking his father. It's okay to say he went to heaven if you want you son to have religion in his life, but be honest about it. Tell your son his father's body quit working and that is why he is no longer with you guys, but because his body quit working he is in heaven. Be sure to tell your son that it's not anyone's fault.

It sounds like you were a very happy family and your husband was a wonderful man. I think you should continue to tell your son all about his father. It will help him feel connected to him as he grows up. As far as your son's role play and dramatic play go. It's completely normal and healthy for a child to play in that manner at his age.

As far as your dating situation goes, this is only opinion, but I don't think you should start dating until you are ready and you should do it for yourself not for your son. It sounds to me like your son has his grandfather to serve as a father figure in his life. Losing the love of your life can be very difficult to overcome. I'm sure your friends have your best interest at heart, but only you will know when you are ready to move on. Perhaps talking to a counselor could help you with this? Also, as a nurse I'm sure you are aware, but depression can play a role with someone in your situation. Your friends could be concerned that you are getting depressed.

I know that words can not fix things for you, but I am truly sorry for your loss. I hope something here helps you.



answers from Louisville on

I am also a single mother (38) with a 3 year old son. I am so sorry to hear of your loss. I can only imagine what you've been through. My father actually had his first heart attack at 36, too.

I've been taking my son and going myself to therapy for a good while now, partly for court purposes. My grandmother died last year and I asked both of our therapists how to handle it. They said absolutely do not tell him that she got sick or went to sleep. They said to tell him "She went to live with God". If you tell him that someone who has died got sick or went to sleep, you cause a lot of anxiety when someone they know (or even themselves) gets sick or goes to sleep. So far for my son, that has sufficed. I'll have to ask next time what to say next if he starts asking more. He used to ask why and I would say "Because God wanted her to live there with him." I guess I would expect your son's next question to need some variation of "God hasn't asked me to live there yet." or "God needs me to stay down here with you right now."

On the dating, I left my son's father just over 2 years ago. I still haven't dated, but am planning to start. Yes, more for my son's needs than my own. It is uncomfortable, but I also miss having a man around--so it's not entirely for him.

If you're at all inclined, I'd love to get together with you sometime. It would be nice to have another single parent friend close to my age. It seems it would be particularly convenient given we both have 3 year old sons. If you're interested, please send me a private message. I'm thinking we could either meet at a local park and let the kids play or meet at a coffee shop and chat without them if you'd rather wait and meet without bringing your child out to meet a stranger. I relocated here to get away from my son's father and have a need to make new friends down here.

Hope this helps--and honestly I do hope to meet you offline.



answers from Indianapolis on

I am very sorry to hear about your husband. If you are not ready to date then I wouldn't listen to everyone else. I don't think your husband would want you alone forever though. But it is really good you didn't start dating soon after he died. My aunt was remarried 8 months after my uncle died. Goes to show, huh? I think your son is lucky to have you, and vice versa. I think he would understand. He might miss not having a male figure around but when the time is right it will happen. I definitely wouldn't push anything if you are not ready. But definitely make sure anyone that you date, your son has to apporve of. And he has to treat you and your son like you are his own family. My ex. wanted to stay with me and have a relationship but didn't want anything to do with my now 3 month old daughter, Evee. So, I told him to hit the road. I thought I loved him. We were together for 2 years before Evee came along. I realized shortly after she was born that the feelings were pretty much one way and he didn't care about me as much as he said. I think it should be ok to talk to your son, but I wouldn't really know since I am also a first time mom. My advice, Do what you feel you must. If you think he is ready, then talk to him. I wish you the best of luck. And there is some lucky guy just waiting to be blessed by being with you and your son. You will find him when it is the right time. Everything will work out.



answers from Fort Wayne on

Hi V.. I don't know how much advice I have, but wanted to say that you sound like a very strong woman, and you should be proud of how well you've managed to survive through such a tragedy. Especially the way you're putting so much thought into what your son's needs are. Keep it up, and be proud of yourself.

As far as your son goes, I've always heard to make things "age appropriate". If I had to explain to my son, who's also 3, I would probably leave it as "when people die, they go to sleep and are not able to wake up," and tell him that they go to heaven, just like you've done. If you go to church, maybe you could talk to his Sunday School teacher or to your pastor and see if they have any ideas, or maybe they'd be willing to talk with him for you. My daughter is turning 5 in a few months, and she's just started to understand and be interested in God and heaven. She has a really hard time with some of the parts of stories, such as death, but she understands what happens when we die. It's only been about 6 months or so since I've felt that she really understands and since she's really started asking questions about it.

God bless you two, and keep it up.


answers from St. Louis on


First of all, I am very sorry about the loss of your husband.
Honestly, I do not think you should date someone just to give a "daddy figure" to your little son. That's so wrong in my opinion. I think you will know when you are ready for that, or probably you will know if you want another man in your life. It is your heart decision.
I think that you should keep the explanation to your kid short and simple; keep talking to him about his daddy, and tell him that he is in Heaven, that every person goes in there in different moments, ones earlier and others later in life. Tell your kid that his daddy loves him a lot and he is watching over him every minute, pray with him and leaves flowers in the cemetery, I think you are doing great about this. Keep it that way until your little boy grows up. I did so when my dad passed away, and my 4 yr old boy, at that time, started asking questions (now he is 6, and he still remembers my dad tremendously!)V., just go one little step every time he asks you something.
I know is a long process, I understand.I really do..... your little boy is a precious treasure born thanks to you and your loved husband; both of your "boys" (your kid and your hubby) will help you to keep that strength you have know...
God bless you

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