Baby Hints & Tips

Dealing with losing a loved one and explaining it to little ones

The boy is tired to playTough question but we are about to lose my granddad and my kids are only 4 and almost 1. My question is how do we tell our 4 yr old about? He knows poppy is very sick but when the time comes how do we explain what’s happened to poppy?

  • I didn’t say “went to sleep” when my parents died as it just scares them at bedtime. I just said their bodies were very old and sick and they just couldn’t work anymore. And sometimes bodies of old people get so sick doctors cannot fix them anymore. Feeling for you, I found it so hard to keep a brave face when I could see my kids hearts were breaking. Feel free to pm me, been through this twice with three little ones xxx Elizabeth
  • Just tell them honestly… If you have particular beliefs like heaven etc then tell them about that. I think it’s better to just tell them the truth, in an age appropriate way, so they learn that death is part of life and nothing to be afraid of. Ben
  • I’m so sorry for your impending loss. Our grandfather passed away just a couple of weeks before I gave birth to my first child. But my brother had to explain it to my then 3.5yo nephew and it wasn’t as daunting as he expected. From now while grandpa is still with you, ask your 4yo to close their eyes and ask if they can see great grandpa. When they say yes you can ask how his face looks, colour of his eyes, how big his smile is etc. Explain that even though he just saw him in hospital, soon he’ll only be able to see him when he closes his eyes, because his body will go up to heaven. Hugs x Natalie
  • I was in the situation recently. I kept telling my daughter that he was very sick and would go to heaven soon taken by the angels. As he lived 12+ hours away we made a few trips in the final months buy each time we went i said to her cherish this time as the angels might take him bytime we get back here next time. I found it didnt help the upset she felt when he did die but she did understand and was ok with the fact he was now a angel looking over us. Kayhla
  • I lost my grandfather last November and my 4 year old was lucky enough to see him the morning before he passed. When I arrived back from the hospital my husband met me at my grandmas house with her and she asked excitedly if grandad was home yet. I explained to her that he was just too sick and tired to get better and he had passed away and he was up in the stars now. That night we picked a star for him and she still chats to him from time to time. She was sad and I told her that it’s ok to cry and that we will always miss him. She asked a lot of questions like how did he get up there and why cant he come back down and what happened to his bones but seemed to deal with it pretty Shanna
  • I’ve had the conversation with my 6yo when she started asking where my grandpa was I just explains that he got really sick and passed away. I believe in heaven so I told her his in a better place where his other family members are that have also died. Then I got the dreaded question. Do children die. I said yes but only if they are really, really sick it if there is an accident. That’s why we hold hands when crossing the road and mummy tells you to stay away from some things to keep you safe etc. Haylee
  • We had a similar situation but with my 20 year old nephew a few months ago. My 4 and 2 year old know that he was sick and has gone away to be in the stars. But we still go to see him at the cemetery. They make him things and talk to him. But also still think he will come if they see his car. It’s a very hard time and difficult on everyone. We will talk finer details as they get older but for now it’s ok. Kylie
  • My mum is a bereavement councillor specialising in working with children and she uses the story of the water bug and the dragonfly with children. You can get it in a nice picture book on amazon.
    http://home.comcast.net/~jackmcleod/Parable.htm Rachael
  • The truth, my nana just past Away and I explained it to my then 5 year old son that she died and has gone to a different place, and that she was know more on our land like the dinosaurs. he got upset (because I was) but I told him story’s of her life and we smiled and felt heps better after. Sammie
  • I told my daughter who had just turned 4 that the person had died and lives in the sky now… She understands a lot for her age so I didn’t find it too hard… Worst part was her saying stop making nanny old I don’t want nanny to die becusse mum says I made her old lol Kirraleigh
  • My daughter lost 3 grandparents the year she turned 4 all very suddenly. We told her the truth. We cried with her and talked about how sad we were. How it was ok to feel sad, scared etc and to talk about it with us. She asked questions and we answered as honestly as we could for a 4yr old. Now 5 we talk about them often and she loves storms for some strange reason she links loves toilet humor and says they are fluffing and calls out to them. We visit their grave now and she tells them stories of what she is up to. Our 2yr old has no memory of them but is included in our memories. Niki
  • No advice. Just lots of love xx my nieces and nephews were a little older than your child when we lost my dad. My mum was able to get a locket from Goldmark jewellers that has the words “He Loves Me” engraved on it. She has given one to each of the grandkids with a picture of pa in it and for the younger babies she has put it in a teddy bear storage box for safe keeping for when they are older. Danielle
  • There are some good children’s books around about it, contact local library, kinder? I tried to be fairly honest with my daughter about it all so she wasn’t freaked out about it. I said that Nan had gone to heaven, even tho we can’t see her anymore we can think of her whenever we would like, you can talk about her anytime , we can look at pictures and remember her whenever you feel sad. Amanda
  • I’ve never sugar coated it for my daughter.. She was 2 when my Aunty and a little girl we knew passed within a few weeks of each other and I told her they were very sick and the doctors couldn’t fix them so they died. When we went to the funerals she saw their coffins and I told her that their bodies were in there and they were going to go sleep in the stars. When my dad passed she was 2y8m, she knew exactly what was happening. She cried with us when we said goodbye to him when he went to the funeral parlour, she was there for the funeral prep, she saw him in his coffin at the viewing and put some special things in with him that she wanted him to have. Then sat through the service with us and cried, then said goodbye with us. She talks about death a bit more openly than most children her age (now 3) but it comes with understanding rather than a sense of mystery or fear which I think is healthy. Kate
  • My father in law passed away the week before xmas…. for now we have told our 3yr old that pa was very tired and is sleeping on the clouds… and he watches over us now. (Obviously at 4 he may have more questions though. Its a tough one…. we didnt know where to begin.) Ashleigh
  • This was is 3 weeks before Christmas. Out kids were the same age. We told our 4yr old the truth. The grand da dad was very sick and that he was going to die and that we will not be able to see him again. He was ok with that, all he was worried about was who had to dig the big hole, cause he was only little and can’t dig a hole THAT big lol I guess you know your kids best and know what they can process. We still talk about grand da dad all the time and ds often says that he misses him and hope he is having fun in heaven. Kerry
  • I know this is a totally different scenario but a couple of weeks ago we had our cat put down. My daughter adored the cat. She’s 22 months old. She asks where the cat is & we tell her “kitty is in heaven & heaven is the clouds and she will protect us”! Ash
  • My dad passed away and my niece (was very young and probably around 4). My brother and his wife told her that poppy went to heaven and pointed to the sky. For a very long time, she would look up in the sky of a night time and point ‘ poppy up there”… we all would cry… Natalie


    How have you explained death to a 4 year old, comment below

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