talking about death and dying

Talking with Kids About Death

Dear Mr. Dad: My father, who had been sick for quite some time, recently died. He and my 7-year old daughter were very close. Naturally, she’s sad that Gramps isn’t around anymore, but I know that she doesn’t completely get why. Do you think she’s old enough to grasp what death is? If so, what’s the best way to talk with her about my dad in a way that will mean something to her?

A: I’m very sorry to hear about your father. Chances are, the concept of death isn’t completely foreign to your daughter—she’s probably seen dead insects, a dead skunk or raccoon on the road, or maybe a family pet died. But it’ll be a few more years before the stark permanence of death sinks in (BTW, that’s a concept that’s not easy for older kids either; most play video games and if their character dies, all they have to do is wait a few minutes and they’ll be resurrected). So while she definitely gets that something pretty major has happened with Gramps (as you mentioned, she’s aware that he hasn’t come to visit in a while), death is still a relatively abstract concept to her. Explaining it is going to be a little tricky, but it can be done.

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Armin Brott

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Armin Brott is the proud father of three, a former U.S. Marine, a best-selling author, radio host, speaker, and one of the country’s leading experts on fatherhood. He writes frequently about fatherhood, families, and men's health. Read more about Armin or visit his website, You can also connect via social media: Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest,  and Linkedin.

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