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Sunday, November 29, 2009

Explaining death to preschoolers

Sorry if you thought this would be an instructional post that you could refer to should the need arise.

I hate to disappoint, but I don't know what the heck I'm doing.

The boys' great-grandfather, Hubs' grandpa, passed away on Friday. Basically, we spent Thanksgiving waiting for it to happen. So sad.

And so hard to explain to little ones.

Really, it's just Monkey, my 4 year-old, that I have to worry about at this point.

He knows that great-grandpa grew old and very sick and that his body couldn't work any more, so God took him to Heaven so that great-grandpa could live with Him.

I don't want my kids to know that sometimes people die who aren't old or who aren't even sick.
I don't know how to process those tragedies myself, let alone how to explain such things to my babies.

I don't know how to explain the concept of a soul to my boys and why great-grandpa's body is lying in a box when we say that he's in Heaven.

I don't know how to explain that he won't wake up. Especially without striking fear into my kids that they'll go to sleep and not wake up. Bedtime is hard enough, thanks. (That comment was just to make myself laugh through all of this- don't take offense)

Putting his body in the ground- I can't even think about explaining that one.

And so...

I took the coward's way out.

I took the boys home on Saturday, missing the viewing on Sunday and the funeral on Monday.

Allowing me to keep to my simple explanation of death.

I can avoid all Monkey's inevitable questions, for the time-being, anyway.

Hubs and mil agreed to this idea.

I'm not sure it's the best way to handle the situation.

There has be a better way.

But, it's the way we chose.

While all of this is going on, I'm back to just my crackberry- so I'll be back to visiting your blogs and commenting after all this passes.

For those of you wondering about my cousin's baby, he is getting stronger and doing well. His heart surgery has been scheduled for next week. He's not out of the woods yet, so continued prayers are welcome.


Blogger Em said...

Not a coward. Just a Mama.

I think you made the correct choice. A 4-year-old might be able to somewhat comprehend Heaven, etc., but should they have to just yet? I know you cannot shield them forever, but if he's anything like my Oldest (7), kids tend to extrapolate and then worry.

I'm so very sorry for you family's lost.

(love the concept of this blog. off to do some digging :-)

Stopping by from SiTS!

November 29, 2009 at 10:15 AM  
Blogger Em said...

I hate when my smilies get decapitated -

November 29, 2009 at 10:16 AM  
Blogger InspiredDreamer said...

I'm so sorry for your loss! Even when it's expected you just don't know how to deal with it. And having the extra burden of trying to explain it to your children...

I think you made the right choice.

November 29, 2009 at 10:37 AM  
Blogger Foursons said...

I'm so sorry for your loss.

And, there is no right answer on how to deal with this. When my mother-in-law was dying and then died I did not take me kids to see her nor did I take them to the funeral which was open casket. I wanted them to remember their grandmother when she was alive and well, not sick in a bed or dead in a coffin. I did take them to the graveside service so they could have closure, but they could not see her at this point.

On the other hand my 4 year old niece spent hours at my MIL's bedside and she went to the funeral and saw her in the casket. She seemed to deal with it just fine.

It all depends on your children and what you think they can handle.

November 29, 2009 at 10:37 AM  
Blogger Ashlee@fatmomblog said...

I don't think you are a coward. Death is hard to explain to little kids. Sorry you had such a crummy Thanksgiving.

Thanks for stopping by my blog!
I am now a follower and grabbed your button :)

November 29, 2009 at 11:28 AM  
Blogger Chief said...

They are not old enough to need more of an explanation than what you gave.

November 29, 2009 at 12:06 PM  
Blogger Christine aka Mistress of Cakes said...

I agree with what you did...they are way to young. Just so you know I have a stepson who was born with heart and lung defects. He wasn't supposed to live past the first day. Fourteen surgeries later he is 14 years old and doing well for the most part. Miracles happen..you are included in my prayers.

November 29, 2009 at 1:18 PM  
Blogger Evonne said...

I agree. You didn't take the cowards way out. Death is a hard concept for anyone to understand, especially a child. And harder when it comes to people who were not old and or sick. I think I would have done the same thing you did.

Sorry about your loss. But i am glad to hear your cousin's baby is getting stronger. I hope his surgery goes well.

November 29, 2009 at 3:28 PM  
Blogger Corrie Howe said...

I don't know if I was an unusual child and if my children are unusual, but we all handled death okay. I'm a believer in telling kids the truth at the level they are at, but only answer what they ask. They'll ask more when they are ready.

Of course, my children and I have yet to experience a death of someone who is a large part of our lives.

November 29, 2009 at 5:22 PM  
Blogger becca said...

I could have written this post verbatim. My daughter (4yo) asks lots of questions about death at this point and I just quickly shuffle over her questions, only grazing the surface. I just don't know what to say when it's such a difficult and scary thing for me personally. My grandmother is 96 and I know the time will come soon where I will have to explain in more detail and I dread the day. But as some commenters mentioned, some kids handle it quite well, I'm just expecting the worst because just because my daughter SAYS she understands that when someone dies they are gone forever, I don't know if she grasps the finality of it. And I'm with you that I don't want her to know that "young" people can die too...

I'm so sorry for your and your husband's loss.

November 29, 2009 at 7:19 PM  
OpenID babookworm said...

I respect how you chose to deal with this tough situation. It's so hard for little ones to understand... it's even hard for the big ones sometimes. Don't be hard on yourself. I will keep you all in my prayers.

November 29, 2009 at 7:49 PM  
Blogger adrienzgirl said...

I remember going to my great-grandma's funeral and viewing when I was 4. It was creepy seeing a dead person. I think you did the right thing!

Sorry for your loss.

November 29, 2009 at 8:22 PM  
Blogger Sara said...

Tough subject. I have no idea what I would tell any child about death, so your approach seems as good as any!

Monkey, by the way, is a super-cute name for your wee one.

November 29, 2009 at 9:15 PM  
Blogger Joy said...

You did the best you could under the circumstances and that is all anyone can ask. So sorry for your loss.

Stopping by to welcome you to the SITS community.

November 29, 2009 at 9:45 PM  
Blogger Jess @ Frugal with a Flourish said...

I don't think your a coward, that is hard to explain when they are so young. I think my mom was very thankful that she got to have that conversation first about the family dog instead of a loved one.

Glad to hear your cousin's baby is doing better! I am thinking about you!

November 29, 2009 at 10:01 PM  
Blogger kys said...

I'm sorry for your family's loss. I think you did the right thing. Heaven is a difficult concept for anyone to grasp. Especially a pre-schooler.

November 29, 2009 at 10:12 PM  
Blogger Samantha said...

I'm so sorry for your loss, and that in addition to dealing with it yourself, you have to think of the best way to explain it to your children. In the wake of such a tough situation, I think you made a good decision. You had their best interest at heart and that's all that matters!

November 29, 2009 at 10:43 PM  
Blogger MarshaMarshaMarsha said...

I am so sorry for the loss of your grandfather!

I highly recommend the book "Tell Me About Heaven" by Randy Alcorn. When my youngest son Christian passed away last year, we read one chapter a night before bed. It opened the door to many a great discussion (and family cry).

My boys are now 10 and 8. We did take them to the funeral home to see Christian one last time... we told them that the body they see is just a shell. It's NOT him. What makes us unique and fun and real is our personality, our soul! And that part, the REAL part of him, is with Jesus. What they are looking at is like the clothes we put on each day... just the outside of us. They did not express a desire to go to his funeral so we did not make them.

I will be praying for your family tonight. Praying that God will give you comfort and peace in your hearts and wisdom with your children.

November 30, 2009 at 12:59 AM  
Blogger MommyBrain said...

So sorry for your family's loss. And sorry that you are facing tough decisions about how best to nurture your kiddos through this. I'm a firm believer in going with your gut; that's the perfect place from which to make this decision.

Glad to hear the news continues to be good for your cousin's baby.

Give those three boys extra hugs tonight :)

November 30, 2009 at 1:10 AM  
Blogger lemonologie said...

I'm sorry for your family for this loss.

It's so difficult to know how to handle these situations. I don't think there is a "right" way. It's just as a previous commenter said - you have to go with your gut.

November 30, 2009 at 2:11 PM  

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