My mother and grandmother are dead. His parents are both in their seventies. We don’t have a kid yet. There’s a very real chance that his parents could die before we add a kid to our family or while the child(ren) are still young.
I read this article about explaining a death to your kid when you are a non-believer and it really touched me.
#1 Explain what happened.
Give the facts as you know them and don’t embellish or lie to make it “easier”.
I told her that his body had stopped working, he had died, and we would not be able to see him again. She then asked me if the doctors could make his body work again. To which I had to reply with a simple no.
#2 Let the child feel how they feel.
Don’t say, “Don’t feel badly”. Of course they feel badly, someone they loved had just died.
She cried. I cried. We held each other.
#3 Include your child in the ceremony
The reason we have ceremonies to help us process what’s going on. Don’t keep your children from that.
My beautiful little girl held my hand, stepped into the river, where my father played as a child, and helped me put him to rest there. With our family surrounding us, we watched as he trickled, a beautiful golden stream, down the bends of his childhood. She looked to me and said, “Mommy, he’s everywhere.”
#4 Don’t try to “get past” it
It’s going to come up again and everyone is going to feel badly again ….and that’s okay.
My daughter will still ask occasionally if we can “fix” her grandfather and bring him back, and those days are always hard. Most days though, she tells me he is growing into beautiful flowers, making the world beautiful for her. Those are the days when I know that she is at peace and I did the best I could
We all have different feelings about life and death, but I loved the way this author put her experience into words. Please go on over to OffbeatFamilies.com and read the whole article.
Fair warning: get your hankies.