Any suggestions on how to explain cremation to a five year old?


Hmm...... It is like the ashes of a fire, a bittersweet memory of a wonderful, bright light. It is keeping the remains near so you can remember the person.


It is keeping the remains near so you can remember the person.

From what I understand it is a sin to keep the remains of a cremated person in any vessel, they have to be returned to the earth if you choose to go that route.


@ Flavius Aetius. Yes, the cremains should be buried as soon as possible on holy ground. Aside from this, the five year old witnessed the cremains in the container and has questions that have not been answered yet



Oh dear. That’s going to be hard to explain to a 5 year old. Very unfortunate that the child saw. I don’t know how to explain it, have you asked the people at the funeral home? They might have some suggestions.


To be perfectly honest, I would probably try to avoid discussing this with my 5yo, who is already experiencing some normal anxiety about death. I certainly wouldn't go so far as to be deceptive, or to do it in a way that was obvious I was avoiding it (after all secrecy is almost always worse than the uncomfortable truth), but if I could just not make a big deal of the urn and the ashes on the mantle for a couple more years, I probably would. Although I know that the church tolerates cremation, I find it distasteful and difficult to think about it myself, and it really depends on the sensitivities of the child as to whether or not the description of cremation would freak them out more.

If I had to give an explanation (and if the child is continuing to think about it, then you probably do), it might go like this: When a person's body dies, normally the body gets buried in the ground. After many years, the parts of the body turn to dust again. This happens with the bodies of all things that were once alive, like animals, bugs (she may have seen this happen), and even plants. This happens very slowly, and that is why we sometimes find bones from creatures that have lived many many years ago. Even though the body turns to dust after it dies, someday when Jesus comes again, he will put the bodies back together so perfectly that they will be even better than before (I include this tangent as a reassurance), and the bodies will go with the souls of all the people in heaven. Cremation is just the same thing as the body turning to dust, except it happens very quickly. (I wouldn't describe the method of cremation unless asked specifically, and then I would be fairly vague, which actually would be honest, because I don't know much about the process of cremation myself). The dust from the body is kept in a container called an urn. Someday at the end of time, Jesus will make those bodies perfect too, just like all the others.

I would also point out that we should always show great respect to the bodies of people who have died, even after they have turned to dust. And if it comes up, I wouldn't shy away from telling my child that the best place to keep an urn is buried in the ground, just like caskets, and that I wish this urn wasn't sitting on Aunt Ghostie's mantle.


Depends on if she knows about death. If she knows about death, tell her that sometimes when people die they don’t get buried the same way.


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