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Helping a child cope with the death of a family member

posted 1 decade 5 years ago
I have a 21 month old who is about to lose his beloved Granny (Nanny) to terminal cancer. It's my wife's mother, but she is a wonderful person and a fantastic grandmother to our son Jake.
He mentions her every day and really looks forward to seeing her, although he hasn't seen her for a week now as she is in the final stages of secondary liver cancer and no longer responds to talking. We don't really want to take him to her now as she isn't the same person he knows and loves.
My wife and I don't show our grief in front of him yet and we are both unsure how to tell him what has happened when she finally goes. We understand that sharing our grief with him is important but don't know how to break the news in the best way.
Has anyone gone through something similar and would be willing to share their experience so we can make a more informed decision please?

Many Thanks.


posted 1 decade 5 years ago
Well I've got three kids 11, 6 and 5 now. Last year I lost my dad, the year before my wife (now separated) lost her brother. Prior to that some great grandparents as well but they were not well known to the kids. Also lost a couple of dogs belonging to the wife's dad, and the kids were fond of them.
Although neither of us were religious we explained that they had gone to heaven and were with god and the angels, and that obviously we wouldn't be able to see them any more. At less than two years old I don't think that a child could cope with much more. It was discussed a little more with the eldest, expecially when her uncle died (he was only 24).
My thoughts are with you and your family at this difficult time. My dad died from cancer so I know it is a very hard thing to deal with. I am glad that when it really took hold it went quite quickly and limited any suffering he may have experienced.

posted 1 decade 5 years ago
I've never fortunately yet had to explain the death of a person to my children, although I would just try to explain in simple terms, as he is only 21 months he probably won't grasp exactly what is going on, but children are receptive so he will surely know that it is making you both sad.

I had to have our family rabbit put to sleep a couple of years ago now, my daughter knew he wasn't well. I explained that he had to go to heaven as he wasn't having a good life here, because of his illness. She accepted that (she was 3) and was understandably upset that she wouldn't see him again.

I'm sorry I couldn't really be much help, and I'm sorry you are going through this terrible situation.

posted 1 decade 5 years ago
My father in law died fairly recently, we explained that when you die you go into the ground to help trees and flowers grow.

posted 1 decade 5 years ago
when i lost my daughter and had to explain it to alisa i told her purely and simply that she had passed away and died.

Try not to say gone to a better place.

Whinstons wish deals with children that have losed a loved one and can help you explain and also can buy memory books for a couple of pounds where your child can write the memories he / she has of the deceased which really helped alisa even though she couldnt write we talked through it and answered her questions honestly i know it is hard for you and them but trust me it is better in the long run

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