The Husband's grandmother passed away. She was 92 and lived a good, long life. It's sad, but not tragic. We went to his hometown for the funeral this week and took The Parasite with us. We agonized over what to tell her and how to handle questions about death and grief from a two year old. We underestimated her intelligence, as we often do.
We told her not be be afraid if people were sad and that Mommy and Daddy would be there the whole time, brought her to the funeral home and hoped for the best. We were going to try to keep her at the back of the room. That went well as she ran up to the (open) casket almost immediately. She sussed it out for herself with "Nonna is sleeping." Well, alrighty then. We didn't speak in hushed tones about her great-grandmother because, well, Eastern Europeans don't DO hushed tones. When she asked to talk to Nonna I told her she couldn't talk to her because Nonna died.
"Oh. Can I have a snack now, Mommy?"
My logic was pretty simple. I figured if I told her the truth from the beginning I wouldn't have to tell her later. I also wouldn't have to damage my credibility when she was old enough to realize I lied, on this or any other occasion. Except for Santa, but he's still useful so I'll burn that bridge later. I know that won't be the last of it, I'm going to answer the question again. And again. And again. I won't be terribly surprised if she hands me the phone six months from now and tells me she wants to talk to Nonna. And I'll tell her she can't because Nonna died. She won't always take it so easily. There will be some tears and probably a tantrum or twelve, but when she looks back over the years she'll know Mommy doesn't lie.
Right? Wrong? Fucked if I know. It's just my best guess. I don't DO sugar coating, it's just not my style. From now until the day she leaves the nest, I'm going to give it my best guess. I just hope it turns out alright in the end.
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I completely agree with how you handled it. I always take my kids to funerals of family members and close friends. They've gone since they were babies. I see no reason to lie to them about such a huge part of life. I actually just did a blog post about kids and funerals/wakes [ http://ladybirdathome.blogspot.com/2011/10/funerals-and-other-fun-childhood.html ] if you want to check it out.
Not everyone agrees, but then it's rare that I agree with everyone. :)
I'm sorry to hear about your family's loss! It sounds like you dealt with it just right. How much can you explain to a little kid anyways?! Sadly, she'll probably understand death better when a pet dies because it's something she sees every day.
That's how I would have handled it too.
My daughter will be 2 next month. We live on a farm. All sorts of basic life events happen here. We've decided not to hide the majority of it from her. She witnessed her first goat kidding at less than a year old.
We slaughtered 4 turkeys a few weeks ago. My husband did the actual killing while B was napping as we aren't ready to explain that quite yet, but she woke up while we were processing them and I brought her outside. She walked over and looked at the carcasses on the tailgate of the truck and said "it's dead" and walked away to play.
I don't believe that she knows what "dead" actually means, but apparently there can be some comprehension at such a young age. Although I did have one friend "jokingly" tell me that we've destroyed her humanity.
Hopefully she won't be upset with Santa lies or any others.
I'm sorry for your loss.
I'm sorry for your loss. I think telling her the truth as the correct way to handle the situation. Kids are surprisingly understanding and resilient.
I'm a new GFC follower from the "We are Canadian Blog Hop". Hope you'll drop by and visit me at Older Mommy, Still Yummy.
@LBAH, thank you for sharing your link. She doesn't seem to be suffering from my brutal honesty yet, so I'll keep my fingers crossed.
@NM, I dunno. Every time I think something might be over her head she goes and proves me wrong. I gotta' stop underestimating this little girl!
@PDW, that's pretty awesome. Your little girl is going to be a tough cookie, and I mean that as the highest form of compliment.
@Joyce, I think as long as Santa keeps making with the presents they'll get along just fine.
@Teena, thank you for your condolences.
@Monica, my little person continues to amaze me every day. I hope it never stops.
I think you handled this appropriately. You didn't lie and you didn't go into what 'died' meant. I'm sure she got a snack too.
Have a terrific day. :)
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