Children and loss
posted at 4/20/2009 12:09 PM EDT
For young kids, it takes awhile for them to really understand death andgrief. My father passed away a year ago, when my eldest son was 4. Hetook the news almost effortlessly, to the point where it seemed not tomatter at all. But over the last year, he's been asking questions. Hewants to know why Grandpa died (emphysema), was Grandma sad, where isGrandpa now, am I sad ... But there were a couple of times when hesimply forgot, and asked me when we were going to see Grandpa next.
So don't be surprised if your daughter's reactions change over time.
What I've done with my son is to answer his questions directly, butbriefly. (I can tell when my son has heard enough or when he needs moreinfo to make sense of things, so I try not to overload him withdetails.) I'm spiritual but not religious, so I couldn't comfort himwith talk about heaven or an afterlife. But I did tell him that Grandpalives on in our hearts, and that as long as we love him, he will bewith us.
Also, don't be surprised if your daughter starts asking questions abouther own mortality. My son was a year older than your daughter whenconfronted with this, but my father's death made my son realize thatwe're all mortal, and for awhile, he really worried about dying too. Ittook awhile, but I was eventually able to reassure him that he didn'thave to worry about that for a long, long time.
And include your daughter in your grief. Let her be a comfort to you,and you can be a comfort to her. As painful as this is for your wholefamily, this is a chance to teach her about love, grieving, andsupport. She'll learn about her own power to give comfort and showlove, and that will help her grow, too.
I'm so sorry for your loss.