How Do You Explain Death to Your Kids?

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Recently I have found myself talking to my almost 4 year old about people dying and death. I suspect it’s partly because we (and I mean, me, my husband and our two kids) play Skylander Giants.

When you character doesn’t have enough life, it takes a break until the next chapter. Every once in a while however, I will say when my character has been defeated “Oops, I’ve died. Can you put another character on the portal, please?” After today, it’s apparent that my youngest has been thinking about dying/death.

The last couple of days he has been home with me because he has been sick and decided this morning was a great opportunity to ask me about death. 

Here’s a recap of our conversation….

My youngest: “Mommy, do people die?”

Me (aka Mommy): “Yes, everyone dies when they get old.”

My youngest: “Mommy, where do they go?”

Me: “Back into the earth”, which I thought was a positive.

My youngest: “Mommy, are you going to die?”

Me: “Yes, when I get old.”

Well, apparently that was an epic parenting fail because a little later on…we had this conversation…

(Just to set the scene – It is now night time and my youngest is he’s exhausted and tired of being sick. We are sitting in the bathroom and as I try to get some Children’s Advil into him, he starts to wail….)

Me: “What’s wrong?”

My youngest: “I don’t want you to die.”

Me – Thinking to myself – Fantastic, how do I get out of this huge hole that I, clearly, dug myself this morning: “I’m not going to die.” (No point in semantics at this point.)

My youngest: “Okay.What about Great Grammy is she going to die?”

Now here is where I have to pause and the tears are slowly starting to run down my face. Great Grammy is 93 years old and legitimately will die but she’s a tough cookie and has at least 10 more years in her.

I answer: “I hope not.”

My youngest: “I really like her. How come we haven’t seen her lately?”

(Awesome now I have to come up with some lame ass excuse.)

Me: “Well, because her dining room is being renovated (which is true.) We’ll see her next week, okay?”

My youngest nods in approval and then we move on to some other nigh time activity.

Wow… what happened there? Was I just schooled in the parenting class of life? I’m not sure if I passed or failed. I love it that my son is trying to figure out the concept of death and how it relates to his family. I was caught off guard when he asked about Great Grammy because he knows she’s old and wants to see her. It’s also very touching to see your son, at a pretty young age, genuinely care about someone else who isn’t his Mommy, Daddy or big brother.

So what did I learn today? Never underestimate your kids, especially around seemingly touchy subjects such as death/dying. They are thinking about a lot more than you realize.

Would love to know if you have had any times when your kids caught you off guard. Email me at weeboot@gmail.com or on Twitter @weebootMom.

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