How to Tell a 5 Year Old that a Loved One Has Died
After the death of my son, I faced the cold hard fact that he was not coming back to us. I didn’t realize how hard it would be to talk to my three year old daughter about the death of her six year old brother, until that moment came where I felt I had no choice.
My two daughters where staying at their father’s house for the summer and where not there at the time of the incident. I had called the very night of his death and told their dad what had happened but I asked him to not talk about it until I seen them again so that I could explain to them in a way that they would understand. He brought them up the next day so that we could tell them the unbearable news.
I had called around and spoke to a child grieve counselor for tips that would help me to explain it to them in a way that they would understand. In this article, I will explain the way that you should talk to a child that is under the age of 5.
A child who is under the age of 5, may not understand what death is and that the person is not coming back. When you tell your child, use the words death and died. Do not lie to the child and tell them that they are sleeping, this will only cause them to be afraid to go to sleep. Try not to use the word lost in front of the child, this can make them afraid that they may become lost.
Let your child ask questions if they have any. Questions are a good sign, this will let you know that they are trying to understand what has happened.
A truck killed my son and I did not want my three year old to be afraid of vehicles. I simply told her that her brother had died and I let her ask all of the questions that she wanted too. When you tell them that they died, explain to them that they will not be able to see them again after the funeral.
Your child will probably keep asking where they are at and when they do, remind them of the conversation that you had. Your child will probably need to be reminded often. Do not become angry that they keep asking, your child is still trying to understand death and what it means to die.
At this age, your child’s memory will be short. Over time, they may begin to forget about this person, in a sense of remembering what they looked like or what their voice sounded like. It is good to keep photos of this person around and to talk about them often but not so much that the child feels like they are being neglected because of the death.
As the child gets older, they will began to know what it means to die. They may not grieve over this person because they don’t remember what this person was like or, because time has passed. This does not mean that they did not love this person, it just means that their memory of them has faded.
If you want this child to know what the person like, remind them and show them pictures of the deceased person. Tell them what it was like when your child was around this person and let them know that this person always cared about them.