Talking to Kids About Death

May 19, 2022

Last week our grandchildren, Owen and Ella, came to stay with us for a few days. One of the things that Ella wanted to do was bake cookies. Because of our many other activities, we were running out of time before she had to leave, so I decided we should use my mom’s recipe for “no-bake” cookies. I knew they wouldn’t take as much time as cookies that needed to be baked in the oven.

As we were working, I told Ella that the recipe was one that my mom, her great-grandmother, used to make all the time. Our conversation continued:

Ella: Oh, and her birthday was yesterday, right?
Me: Yes, it was. She would have been 94.
Ella: Where is she now?
Me: She’s in Heaven with Jesus.
Ella: So she’s dead, right?
Me: ….. yes.

Here I was trying to avoid the word “dead” and she had no trouble with it.

When I was a child, no one talked to me about death. I still remember being afraid and confused when I went to my grandmother’s funeral, around age 6 or 7, because everyone was so sad and I didn’t understand what was going on.

But Ella had no trouble with the word or idea of someone being “dead.” I admit to being a little startled at her directness – only because of my own experiences at her age – but I also was really glad that her parents had talked to her about death, that she knew it is a natural part of life, and that it’s not something that you can’t talk about.

What a healthy attitude!

how-to-talk-to-children-about-death-ella

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2 Comments

  1. DeLoris Musick

    I love your story. Yes, it is soo important that children know about death. It is as important as talking to them about birth. Our generation was raised so differently. I wasn’t allowed to go to my mothers funeral or her viewing (I was 7) and we never talked about it. One day I had a mother and the next day I didn’t and life went on as normal, or so” they” thought. Please, please, everyone, talk to your children!
    Now, how about that recipe? Hmmmmmm
    DeLoris

    • Karen Schulz

      I’m sorry you had this experience. Yes, our generation was raised so differently, as was the one before us, I presume. But I’m so glad things are more open and talked about today!
      Ha! Really? You want the recipe? I’ll email it to you. Super simple!

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