Grandma died


How can I explain this to my 3 year old?


I'm sorry for your loss.

Did your child know Grandma? Was she sick? What I have explained to my kids is that when a person dies, their body stops working. That means that they stop breathing, eating, doing all of the things that we do. Their soul goes to be with Jesus (I am very particular in that I don't say the person IS in heaven, because I don't know that to be a fact), and their body is buried in the ground. Getting to be with Jesus in Heaven is the most wonderful thing you can possibly imagine, so we might be happy for Grandma because she has now gone to be with Jesus. But we don't get to see her anymore, and we will miss her. Because of that we are also sad.

Will you be going to the wake? If so, when you arrive, you can remind the child about all of the ways that the body isn't working. It is perfectly ok to bring your child up to look at the body in the casket. Let him/her ask questions and answer them honestly. Then have your 3yo say a prayer at the casket with you for Grandma. If the child doesn't want to go up to the casket, don't push it, but if you deal with it in a matter-of-fact way, and be sure not to suggest that there is anything to be afraid about, it will be probably be more curious than scary. Also, explain to the child that because some people are sad because they'll miss Grandma, some people might cry. That's ok, they're just showing their sadness, just like you do when you cry sometimes. I also like to ask if the child has any questions when the wake/funeral is over. After all, you never know what aspect of death and grieving will confuse or interest them the most.

Prayers for Grandma and for your family.


A lot of funeral homes have booklets that approach this very subject. You could contact a funeral home to see what they might have to offer.


[quote="NE_Catholic, post:1, topic:221227"]
How can I explain this to my 3 year old?


I don't know but am going to have to find out how to explain Grandpa died to a 4 & 2 yr old, as we bury my brother in law who died suddenly yesterday. As often as our family has been through a similar scenario--my own small children witnessed their own grandfathers' fatal heart attack--I don't have an answer for you.


[quote="NE_Catholic, post:1, topic:221227"]
How can I explain this to my 3 year old?


I am sorry for the loss of your loved one.

Children understand physical death more than we think they can. They see plants, insects, and animals die. Perhaps they understand that the food we eat comes from what was once a living, growing plant, animal or fish.

But when the death is that of a loved one there are some important things a child needs to know because children tend to see themselves as the center of the universe and may have a distorted view of their role in the death of the loved one.

There was a reason the person died. The person might have been old, sick, or had an accident. The child (God forbid) played no role in the death of this person. While the child can't stop growing old there are things that your family does to make sure that the family stays healthy and safe.

The body dies but the soul doesn't. We can't see souls just like we can't see God. But souls are still very real, just like the wind. And souls live forever. When we die our soul goes to see Jesus. That is sad for us but (hopefully) a wonderful thing for the dead person.

When someone dies, it means we won't see them again (until we die.) It is sad for the child and it is sad for the whole family. Even grown-ups are going to be sad and cry. But we will still talk about the person who died and remember all the happy times. (Hopefully there were some.)

If the child is to attend a service for the dead person where the body is present he should be informed as to what he might see.

The child should be told what is to be done with the body of the loved one. Some children may be afraid of the idea of burial or cremation, either because they don't want to be separated from the loved one or because they imagine themselves being buried or cremated and they project those fears onto the dead person. A child might need to understand that a dead person no longer feels pain or claustrophobia.


[quote="NE_Catholic, post:1, topic:221227"]
How can I explain this to my 3 year old?


There's a pretty good chance your child won't remember any of the events or your explanation. Neither of my sons remember their grandfather's funeral, well, I wouldn't expect the younger one to remember since he was just a year old, but his brother was 3. No memories at all. Just give a simple statement like "Grandma's gone to Heaven to be with God" and leave it at that for now. Later on you can talk about your mom or your MIL and show photos. Your child will only know this person through your memories, not his or her own.


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