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Old 09-14-2012, 12:34 PM   #1
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Death in the family

My father in law just passed away. It was very difficult and hard to watch my 2 year old try and process this loss. We have had many conversations with her, but would love some advice from those who have been through this before. What did you share/didn't share with your toddlers when someone close to them passed?

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Old 09-14-2012, 01:10 PM   #2
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Re: Death in the family

I know how u feel my grandma passed when my oldest was 2.5 yrs. She said when home took her, "where did grandma go?" & seemed to clutch to my grandpa. My cousin i8 think then got a book on heaven.
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Old 09-14-2012, 01:11 PM   #3
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Re: Death in the family

I think we just tried to say in better place cuz health deteriorated towards the end. Hugs.
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Old 09-14-2012, 02:47 PM   #4
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Re: Death in the family

I'm so sorry for your loss. I haven't dealt with my own kids going through a loss, but I recently became a grief counselor (of sorts) for kids. One of the main things I got from my training was that when talking to young kids, especially, it's important to say the person died- as opposed to passed away, or lost. A 2 year old can't comprehend death, but at least giving them clear vocabulary helps. (Part of why we were taught to use this phrase is so that they don't equate lost with something that can be found- and passed away doesn't make much more sense to them, so we just say "died".)

I have dealt with my kids having a deceased grandparent, although in my case, it was my dad who died before they were born. Even though it makes me sad to remember my loss, I make a point to talk about my dad often, and basically help the kids to remember him. You will probably want to do this with your DD, too. She's so young that she won't actually remember him, but that doesn't mean that he can't still be a part of her life (in a way).

Let me know if you have any other questions, I'd be happy to help.

ETA- as for what to share or not, I would simply say something like: "Grandpa's heart stopped working, and that made his body die." And then try to be as reassuring as you can, because of course kids think "Well if so & so died, Mom might die too." I don't know if your DD is old enough to wonder that, but if she is, you might want to talk about that.
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Old 09-14-2012, 02:58 PM   #5
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Re: Death in the family

Thanks! We didn't mention the word "died", but we kept it light and said that grandad went to hang out with Jesus. Because of our beliefs and wanting to reference this experience in the future as an opportunity to share with her about our faith, we phrased it that way. We talked about heaven and how Jesus wanted grandad with him. We talked about all the great memories we were given as a gift and to be thankful for that. She also went to the memorial service with us and we talked about that afterwards too. What do you think?
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Old 09-14-2012, 04:19 PM   #6
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Re: Death in the family

Sounds like you're doing it just right. I'm praying for your family as you all deal with this loss.
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Old 09-14-2012, 04:58 PM   #7
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Re: Death in the family

To be perfectly honest, I just haven't explained it. My MIL passed away a little over a year ago. My youngest wasn't not even a year old, and had only seen her a few times in her life anyway. DD2 was 2.5. Her vocabulary just wasn't in a place where I felt like she could process it at all. It was really hard on me and DH also, so trying to figure out how to bring it up was tough too. In addition, DD2 was really only just getting to the point where she could distinguish between MY mom as grandma and MIL as grandma. My mom she saw and still sees at least once or twice a week, sometimes more often. MIL she only saw like once or twice a month, and since both were "grandma" even though one was grandma S and one was grandma N, I could still see her trying to differentiate between the two.

I also don't want constantly discuss MIL or try to create more of a memory of her or anything like that. I believe that's more burden then benefit. My kids have both of my parents and MIL, plus DH's sister, plus all 3 of my siblings, 2 of which are close and have kids, they are pretty close with their cousins, etc, so there's PLENTY of family around them. I don't feel like it's a good idea to create a sense of loss that really isn't there, for a family member that they will never see. We have a couple of pics up of MIL and if they ask we will explain, as well as some pics of them with her in photo albums and such. But I would really rather it be more of a "fact of life" for them, rather than someone they have "lost."

I hope that makes sense. We were close with MIL and her passing was difficult on those of us old enough to understand and miss her. But for the two younger ones, her place in their lives was still being sorted out, and I didn't really feel that it would benefit my kids to make her place in their lives bigger in death than it had been at that point in their lives. As they got older, her place would have been bigger and I am sad that they don't have that.
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Old 09-14-2012, 05:54 PM   #8
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Re: Death in the family

I don't have any advice for you but I'm really sorry for your loss! Hugs and good thoughts to all of you.
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Old 09-15-2012, 10:52 PM   #9
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Re: Death in the family

Thank you all!
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