When Children Ask Questions about Death and Dying

by Alexandra Elizabeth

I’ve never been quite ready for some of the questions my daughter has asked me, like Mommy, where do babies come from? Does it hurt? Has anyone else felt like a deer in headlights when being put on the spot like this? I see her analyzing my answers, feeling unsatisfied with my runaround answers. I’m truly envious of those who are able to answer these questions without skipping a beat!

When Children Ask Questions about Death and Dying

photo credit: Alexandra Elizabeth

She was only three when my Grandfather passed away a few years ago. She could see our family was grieving, but all her three year old brain wanted to know was, where was her “bumpa”? Why couldn’t she see him anymore? Since his passing, she talks about him fairly often, asks if he is an angel looking down on us, protecting us. More recently while we were home she looked in my eyes and said, “Mommy I’m not going to have you forever forever.” My heart…sank. She was right, there may come a time where I may not be around. This wasn’t something I wanted her to be thinking about, and I’ve really struggled with how to effectively communicate with my six year old that everyone comes and goes in this world.

No parent wants to imagine not being present to see their children blossom into adults, but it’s a tough reality we all have to face. I freaked out when she said this to me, I gave birth to this amazing child and I don’t ever want to think I wouldn’t be able to see her smile again.

After taking some time I realized it’s about crafting an answer that’s age appropriate for our kids, giving them pieces of the puzzle, and allowing them the space to talk with us about how they’re feeling and the questions they have.

No, I told her, Mommy may not be around forever forever, but she’ll always love love you, and that love will forever live on in your heart.

How have you talked with your children about death and dying?



Email Author    |    Website About Alexandra Elizabeth

Alexandra is a sassy high-spirited working mom to one sparkling daughter living in Boston. Her blog, Alexandra Elizabeth offers a candid view of motherhood, single parenting, healthy living, products reviews, and more! You can catch her on Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest.

View all articles by

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

1 MommyPage July 31, 2012 at 4:31 pm

I’m glad that you posted this article. It’s always difficult to handle these questions from kids so I found your article very helpful. Thank you for sharing!

Reply

2 Amy Hagerup July 31, 2012 at 11:32 pm

I’m glad I found your website. I too have a blog for Christian moms, but I love how you invited everyone of all faiths or lack there of to join in. I couldn’t figure out how to join up my blog though. Help! Regarding the subject of death and dying, I always found that we lived too close to the reality of it with our 23 years in Africa. Our kids saw death up close way too often. But how comforting to know that those of us who know the Lord will see the ones who precede us home who also knew the Lord. blessings, Amy

Reply

3 Carla August 1, 2012 at 9:49 pm

This post literally brought tears to my eyes mainly because just last week, I had to explain to my six-year-old that her grandfather had passed away. Her father was taking it hard, and although he and I hadn’t been together for years, I was still pretty close and cordial with his family. His grandfather was the closest thing I had to a grandfather and it hurt me. I expected to him to be at my college graduation. But still, I had a feeling that he, along with my grandmother, were there in spirit.

My daughter took the news pretty well. She didn’t see me cry and I made sure of that. I think she understands, for the most part, what it means when someone “passes” or dies. She thinks he’s drinking his coffee in Heaven and I’m sure that he is.

Reply

4 Connie August 4, 2012 at 3:21 pm

My son was two when my dad died. Telling him was so very, very hard. But like you, we gave him the age-appropriate answer and then we talked about grandpa and explained what happened as the years went by so he’d understand it at whatever age he was at.

My boys are adults now and they handle death much better than I do. I suspect it’s because we never kept the “d” word hidden or secret like it was when I was a child.

Reply

5 Kate August 8, 2012 at 9:10 am

The last sentence made me cry. :( Indeed, love of a mommy is something that just doesn’t fade.

Reply

6 pam schmidt August 9, 2012 at 8:21 pm

Oh, this was such a touching piece, and it’s truly genuine in the harsh realization that we probably will precede our kids in death. And when they are so young, it’s more terrifying to face than when they are young adults. Now that mine are in their 20′s, I start to find comfort in the way they look out for me. It’s an interesting journey of relationship development & perspective. Thank you.

Reply

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: