So there’s a topic in the WAIY Facebook group about death and how to explain it to the kiddos, especially when they’re asking about it from a young age. I had to think about this one for a little while before I addressed it because it’s a sensitive subject for some, and it’s not the easiest thing to explain to a child. There are so many different beliefs about death and I think the first thing you don’t want to do is cause confusion for your little one.
I can remember when Wyatt was around 4 or 5 and he went through a phase where he was obsessed with death. Every time we passed a cemetery he would ask about it, or whenever it came up on TV he would comment. He had questions about what happens after a person dies, do we ever see them again, will they know what we’re up to here on Earth and all other kinds of questions a little kid might have. My husband is really good at telling stories to kids about difficult subjects. He puts them into context that the littles can understand and accept. I think that’s the most important thing, explaining it to them in a way they can comprehend this way there’s no confusion. Depending on their age, the details can be more or less detailed. For the smaller kids I tend to keep it very high level “Uncle John died, and we won’t see him again but we can remember him by sharing stories and memories about him” kind of thing. That usually works for a while. When they’re older you can have the conversation around your personal beliefs, religion or spirituality. Some of this might bring comfort to your kids because they have the capacity to understand death a little more in detail. My children have not experienced death on a personal level yet so it’s all very general when the subject comes up. I would keep it as simple as possible and answer questions directly without really diving into it unless of course your child is getting philosophical. There are a lot of different beliefs out there, and it makes sense to socialize yours to your children. Just be thoughtful about the conversation and mindful of other’s beliefs this way your kids are prepared.