When Toddlers Talk of Death

It’s twenty-three degrees and tiny snowflakes lodge in
clumps of brittle grass and into corners of the deck. 
The email comes of Grandpa Joe’s death, and we all pause.
Stomping up the downstairs’ kids in our odd intercom-manner, they tramp up the
steps, and I read it aloud. They listen quietly, soberly, then smile in fond
remembrance, and head back downstairs to grieve him as they study. 
Death is new to Daniel. Four years old, full of comic book
heroes and Bible stories, death is more of a temporary time-out for him.
he has it right, actually. 
I crouch low, looking him in the eyes. “Great-grandpa Joe
just died. When you die, you get to go to heaven with Jesus.” 
“I want to die and be with Jesus!” Daniel quickly decided. “I
want you to die and go too – all of us.” 
“Yes, well,” I pause, swallow a laugh. “Jesus is the boss of
that. He gets to decide when we go to heaven, and we stay here until then.
I look into his eyes and hug him close. “Should we look at
pictures of Grandpa Joe?” Daniel leaps excitedly and we pull up digital albums,
looking at Christmas pasts. He leans in. 
Temporarily stepping out of time…  
I think he has it right after all.
Looking forward to joyful reunions someday, I link with Ann and
I love hearing from you and talking with you.How have you talked about death with your own kids? Or what helped you when you were little? (To join the conversation from email, click here. Thanks.)

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  1. Houseofmills on November 13, 2012 at 3:21 am

    My kids talk all the time about how they can't wait to go to heaven and meet Jesus. I am so glad they want that, but at the same time taken back because I really enjoy them on earth with me. Inside I am thinking you can come to heaven after me. hahhha

  2. cabinart on November 13, 2012 at 4:02 am

    Usually kids get to ease into death and loss at a gradual pace. Great grandparents often aren't close. A grandparent is harder, but that more typically comes when we are teens or adults.

    The most difficult and horrible situation is when they lose someone who lives in their own household. I have no idea about that, and am so grateful I didn't experience large loss until I was an adult.

  3. Denise on November 13, 2012 at 12:51 pm

    Bless you for sharing.

  4. Pam on November 13, 2012 at 3:35 pm

    We have dealt with death in our household when my daughter was only 6. Her little brother was dying. He died right after she turned 7. It was hard for all involved, but she was kept as informed as a small child can be, and when the event came, she was prepared. There were tears and checking his bed, since the idea of separation of body and spirit were hard for her to understand at that time. In her little girl mind at the time, since he went to heaven, all of him went to heaven. And for that time and her maturity level, we were able to just let that be. We did not include her in viewing etc as it was hard enough on grown ups. I just didn't see the need to put her through it at the time. Looking back on things, I have no regrets for the way we handled anything. We were doing the best we could with a difficult situation.

  5. Cheryl Barker on November 15, 2012 at 12:38 am

    Jennifer, I'm sorry to hear of your loss. May God comfort you and your entire family. Sending a hug!

  6. Dontmissyoursunsetlady on November 16, 2012 at 11:29 pm

    Daniel sure does have a wise heart! Sorry for your loss!

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