January 20, 2004
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How do you explain death to a child?

As honestly and candidly as possible.

Keri-Jade, 23
Brampton, Ontario CANADA

Luckily I've never had to do this. I really don't know how I would go about it.

Alice, 23
Wincehster UK

I've never had to do this. I'd like to think I'd provide enough sentiment but not to create false knowledge.

Felicia, 37
Lowell, MA USA

Good question...
It took me a long time to figure out how to explain death to an adult (me).

Frodo, 32
The Shire

tell them that the person went to Heaven. If the child has been to church like their parents are supposed to take them so they learn about God, they will understand that this is a good thing.

Melodi, 19
Gahanna, OH USA

Explain death in terms of your religious (or agnostic or atheistic beliefs). If you don't know, say so. Be sure that the child knows that feelings of rage, sorrow and anger are all acceptable. Be prepared to explain over and over and over. Death is difficult for adults to accept and children are even less prepared.

Jill, 61
Saylorsburg, PA USA

There's a pretty good description of death in Mr. Roger's "When a pet dies" book. But whatever you do don't compare death to "going to sleep and never waking up" or you'll have a kid who won't go to sleep at night. Usually when the family pet dies you have a concrete example of death.

Sarah
Lowell, MA USA

With difficulty! Honesty is important, but beyond that it depends on the age and personality of the child, and how close the child was to the person or pet that died.

Jane, 63
West Linn, OR USA

Depends on too many things. Do you beleive in God? Do you think you are just going back into the earth to start life's circle? What ever it is I think the younger the child is, the harder it is to explain it to them. You still get questions years later.

KarenNJ, 45
Milltown, NJ USA

You tell them that the person (or pet, or whatever) is no longer alive and will not be coming back. You tell them that it doesn't hurt to be dead. You tell them that it's OK to feel sad.

Laura, 39
Lowell, MA USA

Thankfully, I have never had to. However, I think I would treat the child as an adult in talking about death. I obviously don't have all the answers about death, but I could tell the child what I do know.

Karen, 23
Ames, IA USA

Yesterday / Tomorrow