When a loved one dies, it is hard on the entire family. For a toddler, it can be especially confusing. toddlers are amazingly perceptive and will quickly pick up on an adult’s sadness and grief, no matter how much the adult tries to act like everything is ok. In addition, young children have no concept of time or permanence and will often wonder when the loved one is “coming back”. It is not often easy for anyone but there are steps you can take to help your child through the death of a loved one.
Explain the situation in simple terms. Grandma’s body stopped working and she died. I feel very sad because I won’t see her again. I loved Grandma so much.
Answer your child’s questions, no matter how repetitive. Often children want to know where the loved one is after they have died. The answer depends on your faith and belief system. I believe that Grandma is in heaven right now. She probably saw Uncle James when she got there! It is also common for children to want to hear information many times in order to fully digest it – be patient.
Ask your child how she is feeling and give “feelings words” when needed. I can see by your face that you are feeling sad and that you miss Grandma. I feel sad too.
Make a memory book. Find pictures and reminders of things your child liked to do with the loved one and help her arrange them in a photo album. Keep the album available to your child and look through it together as often as your child wants.
Pay extra attention and give lots of love. It will be good for both of you. Death can often make children feel vulnerable and unsure (adults may feel this way too). If you are feeling too sad to fully tend to your child, enlist a friend or family member to pitch in. Together you can make death an easier and less confusing experience for your child.
Let Them Fly!