What do you tell a three year old when it comes to death?

So last week was a pretty awful week for me, not only do my daughter and I have the most awful hacking cough that resulted in temperatures, sleepless nights and a trip to the doctor resulting in well absolutely nothing! But on Saturday my grandad passed away. Now I am a very practical type of person who understands that 85 years is a good innings and that he had been very ill so in a way it is the best thing, however I have to say no matter how practically I try to look at it, nothing can stop the hurting and the tears that keep flowing!

On Thursday we had to call an ambulance out to him and he refused to go into hospital so we had to get the doctor in and well it was a long night! But on Friday as Bethany and I were so ill we went to the doctor and then went round to my nans, my uncle arrived from Eastbourne and my mum and dad were there so we all got to spend the day chatting and popping in to see grandad, who actually slept for quite a lot of the day, so wasn’t in too much pain. We all got to spend the day together which now I see as fate dealing us a good card! Saturday the whole family arrived on mass at nans and it was lovely to see cousin’s and uncle’s and aunt’s, as upsetting as these things were, it is also nice to come together as a family.

Saturday evening when I got home to John and Bethany I told Bethany that great-grandad isn’t poorly anymore but next time we go to great-nannies house he won’t be there – she took the information looked at me and carried on playing, so that was that. Now obviously when we go to great-nannies she is probably going to ask where great-grandad is and I don’t really want to answer that in front of nan, but I really don’t want to bring up the topic again and upset her either! Gosh it’s so hard to know the right thing to do.

We previously mentioned that my grandparents on my dad’s side and an uncle had died and they were in heaven and she got upset and said she didn’t want to die. I explained that they had been poorly and they weren’t anymore and they were watching over us to make sure we were OK and they always loved us and were up with the stars and I thought we had it all covered. Then about a week later she said to me “Mummy I want to die” through tears I said “what do you mean” and she said “I want to meet my other nanny and be with the stars”. So Obviously I didn’t do such a good job of explaining it all and made it sound too glamorous?

So my question is how much do you tell a 3 year old? How much will she understand and should I talk about it again or leave it alone until she mentions again? I cannot begin to imagine how hard it is for families who lose a close family member far too soon, to try and explain it and justify it to children, well in fact to justify it at all! if you have had the unenviable task of trying to broach this subject with a youngster I’d love to hear what worked for your family.

Thanks x


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