Explaining death to a child


Tonight, Georgia was helping me give Violet a bath…

“Someday G, you and Violet will be able to take baths together. Won’t that be fun? My brother and I took baths together when I was little. We loved it!”

“But he died right?”

“Yes, he did. He’s in Heaven now.”

“Why didn’t his doctors try to fix him?”

“They did try but not everything can be fixed.”

The simplicity of this exchange amazes me. The words cut, but the understanding is clear. The processing of events that probably occurred (doctors) shows she has thought things through more than I give her credit for. Nothing passes by this kid.

My first experience with death, was when my mom’s paternal grandmother passed, I was about six. I saw her at the viewing and said she needed a smile. Her face was so stern looking. In my childhood innocence I thought since she went to heaven, clearly she should have a smile. In some ways, the 36-year old me still believes that.

Sometimes people assume that kids don’t understand complex situations, but maybe we don’t give them enough credit.

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