How do you explain death and Heaven to a six-year-old?


#1

Some friends of ours - a family of five - recently lost their 3-year-old nephew very suddenly. The family has three sons (6, 5 and 2) and while their mom was trying to explain that their cousin was in Heaven, she had a great deal of difficulty getting them to understand.

She tried to describe Heaven as being a happier place, to which the boys asked "Is there Wii in Heaven? Do they have to go to bed?" And then the boys began asking when they could go to Heaven - their mom told them Heaven is for people after they die. The middle one asked if he could die so he could play soccer all day long. The older one asked why people die when they die, to which mom responded that they die when it's their time, and so they asked if it was their cousin's time, which made mom very upset and ended the conversation. Later, while driving, the boys asked her to hit a squirrel so the squirrel could be in a happier place.

Needless to say, I really feel for their mom, having the dual burden of mourning for her sister's son as well as trying to explain things so her boys understand as best they can. I'm just happy that the two-year-old usually doesn't ask her much - he's mostly content to just snuggle with her or with whomever is willing to hold him.

This family will be staying with us over Independence Day weekend and I'm fairly certain the boys will talk about their cousin and ask questions about God (the 6-year-old usually quizzes me after Mass when we visit them). How should I answer his questions? What's a good approach to use with this very bright, very sweet little guys?


#2

[quote="losh14, post:1, topic:202955"]

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This family will be staying with us over Independence Day weekend and I'm fairly certain the boys will talk about their cousin and ask questions about God (the 6-year-old usually quizzes me after Mass when we visit them). How should I answer his questions? What's a good approach to use with this very bright, very sweet little guys?

[/quote]

Sorry about the "loss" of your three year old Nephew;this is always hard when they are so young.I am no expert on what you should say; but I do know that using positive words and images do help.In general when I person dies we tend to say "God took this or that person" when the better expression is "this boy went to God or he went to his true home,heaven"or "this child is now happy with God--he will be there to welcome you all when one day we all will meet again if we are good"! You are in the best position to know what to say what is truthful but yet age appropriate.May God Bless all the good that you do in teaching your children the Way to Eternal Life and console your extended family in their grief,well done! May St Joseph guide you and protect your family always.


#3

Boys have a lot of imagination and will use it to dream up anything.. There own concept of Heaven..

It's a mystery.. We really don't know.. The closest thing we have is in the book of Revelation. We also have a concept from the words of Jesus on the cross when He said to the thief "Today you shall be with Me in Paradise" >> It's like returning to the Garden of Eden.

Talk about concept.. A few years ago my Uncle Charles passed away. My grandson went to the funeral with me. I told him Uncle Charles had died and had gone to Heaven.. He was 4 years old at the time and his reply was "We will have to get Uncle Charles some new batteries" ... Well, for years he heard his mom say when a toy would stop "Oh, the train died, we will have to replace the batteries"


#4

[quote="Will_B, post:3, topic:202955"]

Talk about concept.. A few years ago my Uncle Charles passed away. My grandson went to the funeral with me. I told him Uncle Charles had died and had gone to Heaven.. He was 4 years old at the time and his reply was "We will have to get Uncle Charles some new batteries" ... Well, for years he heard his mom say when a toy would stop "Oh, the train died, we will have to replace the batteries"

[/quote]

At my grandmother's funeral, my cousin's 4-year-old approached the casket, leaned in, and very loudly shouted "Wake up!" It was some much-needed, if slighly embarrassed, laughter.


#5

I go along with what has already been said, and add in how sad they would be about losing someone or dog, cat etc they deeply loved so yes they have joined God and are lucky for that, but tell them think about the ones left behind and how sad they are.

It really is hard to write feelings sometimes, but let the Holy Spirit guide you. You will be in my prayers

John


#6

They’ve posted the little guy’s obituary. He’s 4, not 3.

legacy.suntimes.com/obituaries/chicagosuntimes/obituary.aspx?n=john-andrew-bartell&pid=143721261&fhid=2342

Keep his parents in your prayers, I can’t imagine what they’re going through. He was a really sweet kid with a big smile and the tendency to hug everyone.


#7

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