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Author Topic: Explaining to child  (Read 10930 times)

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Offline Laus

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Explaining to child
« on: September 25, 2010, 08:37:50 PM »
Tonight I showed my daughter the Lion King for the first time.  We had to turn it off after 20 mins as she was quite worked up and upset at seeing the daddy lion fall to his death.  She started to talk about her daddy and I explained that he didn't fall, but I didn't know how to answer how he died.  Any advice on how I can answer her questions about his death?  He died from sudden death and she's 4.  I said he was unwell.  Is there any common thing to say that is best?
I wish I'd never put the lion king on now.  She said she's going to think about the scene forever and ever and she can't get it out of her head.  Hopefully she'll forget about it soon enough, but just wondered if anyone had any good responses to questions about the death itself.
Thanks,
Laura

Offline That Brummie

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Re: Explaining to child
« Reply #1 on: September 25, 2010, 09:43:19 PM »
Oh no, that's really sad and what an awful situation for you to have to deal with -let alone help a 4 year old understand.

I don't have any experience  of this and don't know what the right thing to say is but I guess explaining that it's very unusual for that to happen to someone unless they're very old, and that sadly he just got very poorly.

I think it's really important to stress to her that this doesn't happen to everyone that's poorly and that it's a very very unusual thing, I remember my mum telling my son when he was that age that her own mum had died because she was poorly and I was terrified J would make the connection between him being poorly (cold, cough, chicken pox etc) with dying and become afraid for himself so I made sure he knew that she was very old and that her body was too old to get better.

I'm sure others may be along with wiser words of wisdom than me!

Offline MelM

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Re: Explaining to child
« Reply #2 on: September 25, 2010, 10:16:52 PM »
Hi Laura

I found it very difficult getting that balance between telling them enough to cope with, whilst still being honest and not telling them too much. I googled bereaved children and there are a few websites that recommend ways of telling your child and even what you can say. I didnt initally tell my children that their dad had taken his own life as they were so young but they eventually asked for more details about how he died and I couldnt lie, so had to say it in a way that I hoped they would be able to understand.

All I can remember when talking to my children is that they seemed to see things in a far more literal way than we do, very black and white and they took everything on board and came back for more information when they felt they needed it.

It is very difficult but I sometimes think its harder for us to say because we have a more emotional understanding of what we are trying to explain. I recommend looking through some bereavement advice websites, I think Winstons wish is one of them.

Best wishes
Melx

Offline Laus

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Re: Explaining to child
« Reply #3 on: September 26, 2010, 09:23:33 AM »
Thanks for advice, unfortunately she woke up sobbing twice in the night shouting 'turn it off turn if off'' I don't like him falling. :-(  I'm really suprised at her strong reaction.  I will look at Winstons wish, and yes I agree, children just accept what we tell them and she'll come back for more questions later.  She hasn't mentioned her dad this morning so I will wait until she asks again and then tell her it was a very unfortunate thing that doesn't happen to many people.  She has asked a few times, how do you get died mummy.  It's hard to get the balance as I don't want her seeing death as ok but trying to explain that it is.  Now I'm waffling....
Have a good day
x

Offline MelM

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Re: Explaining to child
« Reply #4 on: September 26, 2010, 09:58:39 AM »
Mornin Laura,
My daughter was nearly four when I had the same issues and I can really sympathise. Keep on talking and reassuring her cause as you know they worry that if it can happen to daddy then is mummy going to leave them too, which is probably why she wants to know how to get died. My daughter, who is now 9 is quite insecure, needs to know exactly where i am at all times and I guess that is because she worries that I am going to leave her too. I hope your daughter settles soon.
Melx

Offline Laus

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Re: Explaining to child
« Reply #5 on: September 27, 2010, 06:22:52 PM »
I never thought about the fact she may start to worry I'll go too, but of course that's a natural step I'll have to be ready for.  She is still going on about the lion falling but it seems to have shifted to just talking about the naughty lion rather than the death.  Thanks for the advice, no doubt I'll post again soon enough for some help,
  ??? Laura
x

Offline oilygirl

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Re: Explaining to child
« Reply #6 on: October 02, 2010, 10:30:18 PM »
Hi Laura
I dont usually come on this thread but i could not go without saying something. There is an organisation called Daisys Dream, they work very closely with children please give them a ring they will give you very good advice. They helped me for well over a year with my daughter please give them a ring.
www.daisysdream.org.uk 
Also you may find the Way org of help http://www.wayfoundation.org.uk/
I cannot pretend to you that your journey will be easy but i found that the above gave me good advice,support, and most importantly helped, gave couselling to, and supported my daughter.

Wish you well
Nam myho renge kyo

Offline Woody2010

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Re: Explaining to child
« Reply #7 on: October 31, 2010, 07:06:41 PM »
Hi Laura,
I know your post is a few weeks old now but just wondered how you were getting on with your daughter. I sadly lost a son to cot death a few years back and it absolutely crushed me but even hearder was explaining to my other kids what had happened to their baby brother. It's extremely hard to deal with but I hope you found comfort and advice and your daughter is feeling better about it all. All the best.

Offline Laus

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Re: Explaining to child
« Reply #8 on: November 02, 2010, 08:30:43 PM »
Hi,
I'm so sorry to hear about your Son.  A great loss and another star in the sky shining down on us. 
My daughter is doing ok and hasn't been talking about death very much.  She has started to have night terrors or tantrums in the middle of the night.  I don't think they're related to worry in any way.  I think she's just over tired from starting school.  Her dad's birthday is next week.  We'll send a helium balloon up in the sky for him so she might ask a few questions again then.
Take care,
Laura

Offline sarah1976

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Re: Explaining to child
« Reply #9 on: November 10, 2010, 07:10:26 PM »
a book i'm using is called tear soup. It is great for mine aged between six and eleven and it deals with grief not just death but illness divorce etc x worth a read to help understand others feelings too x
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Offline Laus

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Re: Explaining to child
« Reply #10 on: December 17, 2010, 09:50:43 PM »
My daughter has started to wonder about life after death now.  As Catholics obviously we talk about heaven but she has been asking if the dead have a body, or just a head. She's been talking about it to me as well as my mum and wondering if my mum will die as her hands are 'old'. I really don't know how to go about explaining life after death to a 4 year old.  I'm thinking I should just say they have a body?  Any suggestions?  I'm going to ring daisys dream as suggested in next couple of days to see what they say.
x

Offline Silky

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Re: Explaining to child
« Reply #11 on: December 17, 2010, 10:41:34 PM »
I think if you're clear in your own beliefs there's no problem in sharing these. My children haven't lost anyone close to them that they've known but know all about Granddad who passed away shortly after my oldest was born, and know that he's still around and looking after us, we just can't see him (but he can see us). If we're very still, sometimes we can sense he's around.....etc etc. 

My children go to a Catholic school, my beliefs are more spiritual and I find they're actually forming their own opinions but are quite pragmatic about it all.

I've heard of Winston's Wish as well as Daisy's Dream, a similar type of charity and a mine of information and support - I do hope they can help.

Silky x

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Offline MelM

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Re: Explaining to child
« Reply #12 on: December 18, 2010, 09:10:44 PM »
Hi Laura

With my children, I kind of had to go with the flow. They know that some people are buried and some cremated so I decided it would be best to say that the body is no longer needed when you die, purely because I knew from the questions that they were asking that they were really concerned about about people being burned or being eaten by worms in the ground. I told mine that people live on in spirit because I felt they needed to know that their dad still loves them without the fear of his body being harmed. But I think this just felt right for our circumstances. I suppose its a very personal thing and religion dependent too. My children did start questioning about how long granny and grandad had left, I think they are just trying to understand when and why. Would be interesting to see what Daisys Dream say.
Best wishes
Melx

Offline Mia

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Re: Explaining to child
« Reply #13 on: December 18, 2010, 09:27:07 PM »
Hi

I have been given a Christian booklet called water bugs and dragonfiles, it's a lovely story and explains how the water bugs keep disappearing above the surface and not returning, then we follow one up there and realise that it changes into a dragonfly which then has taken a different form and can no longer return to the water bugs under the surface. It's very well written, worth a look.

I bought a couple of books to help explain things to G and one of them (I Miss You by Pat Thomas) just states (clearly but gently) that "when someone dies their body stops working, their heart stops beating, they don't breathe anymore, they can't think or feel anything anymore. They don't eat or sleep".

"Death is a natural part of life.  All living things grow, change, and eventually die."  It also explains that people die for different reasons and that unlike in books and films that in real life it's good people that die as well as bad people.  That there is a lot that we don't know and that lots of people all think different things about what happens afterwards.

Hope some of that helps x   
Having children makes you no more a parent than having a piano makes you a pianist.  Michael Levine.

Offline Mia

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Re: Explaining to child
« Reply #14 on: December 18, 2010, 09:42:36 PM »
Also G has been commenting on others and even herself dying.  I'm a firm believer in telling kids the truth but at their level and I've gone down the life cycle route and explained that everything that is alive, will at some point die. 

That it includes everthing alive from flowers, plants, flies and spiders to cats, dogs and people....  that they all live for different lengths of time and that cats and dogs and people usually live for longer than flowers, flies and spiders for example.  That things die for different reasons.  A flower will last for it's lifetime unless you stand on it or don't water it etc.  A fly will last for it's lifetime unless you squash it or it gets eaten by a spider etc.  People usually live for a long time until they are old unless they get sick or have an accident.

For me it's about putting it into perspective and reassuring them that it's not something to be scared of.  We haven't had this conversation all in one go by the way, she's asked bits and pieces over the weeks but I'm following the same types of answers. 

Today it was about her pet fish "will he die one day?"  My answer was  "Yes sweetheart, he will one day but hopefully not for a long time, unless we forget to feed him or to change his water and look after him.  He'll probably die before Mia (the cat) does though because fish don't live for as long as cats".

Every child, parent and situation is different though so I guess you can only really go with what you feel comfortable with... x

Having children makes you no more a parent than having a piano makes you a pianist.  Michael Levine.

Offline Laus

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Re: Explaining to child
« Reply #15 on: December 19, 2010, 01:23:46 PM »
Thanks.  I told her yesterday that we do have bodies in heaven and there's no need to worry.  I was sure of what I was saying (Thanks Silky for the words of wisdom about being clear) and so she accepted it.  She did then say, that's good so nanny can get around when she's there (My mum is still with us but she's just thinking in advance). 
I've also bought 3 books from amazon, the dragon fly one, badgers parting gifts and Up in heaven (about a dog).  I wont give them all to her as don't want information overload but will have them to read at the right times.
Thanks for the advice and no doubt I'll be back posting soon.  I will give daisys dream a ring just to see what they suggest about 'life after death' chats and will let you all know what they say,
Laura
x

Offline GlassTownGirl

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Re: Explaining to child
« Reply #16 on: January 07, 2013, 02:49:13 PM »
hi, I do understand a little about your difficulty with this. My partner/ father of my son DID fall to his death when my son was 10 months old, he is now 10. I decided to not hide the truth abot his father death but only tell him the parts he would understand at the age he asked. Although it was suicide, I always told my son, when he was very small, that his dad fell and banged his head and broke lots of bones, which was true as he would have no concept of suicide. He has known someone at school whose dad killed himself but didnt ask too many questions. I work for a mental health charity and he understands (i think, something about about mental illness). He still hasnt put the bits together and I am expecting him any day to ask me what really happened. I have mentioned to him in the past about his dads depression. To be honest,it will be quite a relief to tell him more although I cannot anticipate at all what will happen after that. Good luck, you will know when the time is right. Gill x

Offline charliebrown39

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Re: Explaining to child
« Reply #17 on: April 15, 2013, 11:02:25 PM »
Hi Laura and everyone on this thread who has suffered loss.

My thoughts and prayers go out to you. From my own experience (my sons father was murdered when my son was 5). The best piece of advice I can give is honesty that is appropriate for your childs age. I struggled telling my son his father was shot and when asked my answers at first were vague (I was frightened of upsetting him more than he already was)...kids are sensitive to you and I'm sure he knew I was holding back. I spoke with a number of child counsellors via Winstons wish, gingerbread etc and was told always to be as honest as possible. Once I was honest with my son, he seemed satisfied with answers. I also think you should allow your child to see you grieve, it shows them what they are feeling is acceptable too. Its a tough journey and heartbreaking to see our children suffer pain and anguish and sadly time is the only healer. I wish you all love and best wishes on your difficult paths xxx Charlotte

 

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