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Tuesday, December 9, 2008

How do you explain death to an (almost) 4 year old?

I know this sets a somber mood to my Blog for today, but it's been on my mind since yesterday and I wanted to get it out there. My Sister in Law is very sick, and they are basically only giving her months to live. My daughter, who will be 4 in a couple of week, is VERY close to her. She idolizes her aunt.

Yesterday when she came home from my IL's (my MIL watches them every other week), she started crying as soon as she walked in the door when I asked about my SIL. She looked at me and said "Mommy, she's going to die and I don't want her to die". My poor heart broke. Today, she brought one of her flowers that she got from her dance recital to Aunt PJ and told my MIL that she wanted to give it to her to remember her by when she dies! She was SO upset and I had no words to say to her. I'm awful when it comes to death; I've been fortunate that not many people close to me have passed away. But she's 4, so I don't know what to tell her.

I talked to my MIL today briefly about it, and she told me she's been telling Sophie that Aunt PJ is going to be a Princess Angel when she passes, and that made me cry as soon as I got into the car. I don't want Sophie to have to go through the hurt of losing someone so close to her....

My MIL did give me a pamphlet called "Discussing Death with Children", but I feel like it's going to be too depressing to read.... That might be something my husband and I have to band together to do together with her, to kind of get her prepared for what's going to happen.


Bloggymommy said...

Oh I'm so sorry! ((hugs)) I know this must be difficult. My sister has Lupus and we've almost lost her a couple of times so I know it's scary to think about explaining that to a child. My grandmother passed away a year ago and my kids were very close to her. The way I explained it to them was that she was going to heaven so she wouldn't hurt or be sick anymore and that she would become an angel. It's very hard and they still have questions but I try to answer them as honestly as I can without giving them too much info or scaring them. Good luck! I'll keep your family in my prayers! (((HUGS)))

Sarah said...

I don't think there is any easy way to do it but maybe by grieving with her both of you will find a new approach and level of healing. Definitely something to do and discuss as a family. Hugs and prayers for wisdom are coming to you!

Gina said...

First off, get TONS of pictures of Sophie with her aunt!!!! That is my one regret, I didn't take enough pictures of Haleigh with my MIL. Then after your SIL passes, basically make a shrine of pictures for Sophie of the pics and hang it in her room, or some place special to Sophie. Sophie is 2 years older than Haleigh was, so she understands and remembers more.

Follow your religious beliefs as far as God and heaven as well, or whatever you believe in. As a Christian, heaven is eternal resting place for me, so it was easy to tell Haleigh that grandma was at home with God, we used the sky to describe where heaven is, and we also get balloons filled with helium and send them up to grandma as well. Whatever the beliefs you want to instill in your children, use that as a basis to build upon. Keep it simple with Sophie and Peyton as well. They don't need to know details. You can also add that she is no longer in pain, and she is very happy in her new "home".

I allow Haleigh to pray to MIL and talk to her whenever she wants to. In Haleigh's old room, her ceiling was painted with clouds, so she could see the sky from her bed.

Encourage Sophie to spend as much time with SIL now as possible, allow them to do special things together, as much as you SIL can. TAKE PICTURES!!!!! With all of your kids as well! Treasure all of the holidays. And your SIL will definitely be an angel looking over Sophie throughout the rest of her life.

You know where to find me if you want to talk any more about this.