How do you explain death to a child?
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14-11-2013, 08:55 AM
How do you explain death to a child?
So my little boy is two and where I do not see imminent death of anyone on the horizon I can't help but to jump ahead and wonder how do you explain these things to a child. Obviously the answer would vary greatly on the age of the child and what they can comprehend but for instance if a child is say 4 or 5 and a grandparent died how would you explain where they are or what happened to them?
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14-11-2013, 09:18 AM
RE: How do you explain death to a child?
(14-11-2013 08:55 AM)J-Hova Wrote:  So my little boy is two and where I do not see imminent death of anyone on the horizon I can't help but to jump ahead and wonder how do you explain these things to a child. Obviously the answer would vary greatly on the age of the child and what they can comprehend but for instance if a child is say 4 or 5 and a grandparent died how would you explain where they are or what happened to them?

That is an excellent question!!! Given that an atheist does not have the "fall back" positon of the theist, an answer - any answer - may be troubling to a child. Hell, it's troubling to an adult!
Certainly, the many terms using "asleep" ("Grandpa simple fell asleep, but won't ever wake up") would most likely scare the child enough such that going to bed would become problematic.
I really don't have a good answer; perhaps someone here who has answered this question successfully could add their wisdom!?

"People don't go to heaven when they die; they're taken to a special room and burned!" Evil_monster
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14-11-2013, 09:23 AM
RE: How do you explain death to a child?
I think I would go for something along the lines of "grandpa is gone, but all of those bits of stardust that make up me and you and ol' grandpa are going to go on, being a part of this amazing Earth for a loooong time. And one day you and I will be gone, too, and these atoms will be all rearranged into flowers and trees and rainbows and puppies."

You know, or something like that.
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14-11-2013, 09:28 AM
RE: How do you explain death to a child?
(14-11-2013 09:23 AM)Colourcraze Wrote:  I think I would go for something along the lines of "grandpa is gone, but all of those bits of stardust that make up me and you and ol' grandpa are going to go on, being a part of this amazing Earth for a loooong time. And one day you and I will be gone, too, and these atoms will be all rearranged into flowers and trees and rainbows and puppies."

You know, or something like that.

I like this. Might want to add in that Grandpa has been around for a very, very long time, longer than the kid can even imagine, and after that much time the above happens. That will keep the kid from panicking about you or the kid him/herself leaving any time soon.

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Science is the process we've designed to be responsible for generating our best guess as to what the fuck is going on. Girly Man
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14-11-2013, 09:28 AM
RE: How do you explain death to a child?
Stardust explanation is awesome, naturalistic but mystical at the same time.

Theism is to believe what other people claim, Atheism is to ask "why should I".
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14-11-2013, 09:36 AM
RE: How do you explain death to a child?
(14-11-2013 09:28 AM)sporehux Wrote:  Stardust explanation is awesome, naturalistic but mystical at the same time.

Exactly. I'm a firm believer that science is just as comforting as religion, if not moreso since it's, well... real. I think we just have to express the beauty of science warmly.
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14-11-2013, 09:38 AM
RE: How do you explain death to a child?
"He's gone to a better place..."

[Image: heic1107a.jpg]

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14-11-2013, 10:06 AM
RE: How do you explain death to a child?
(14-11-2013 09:38 AM)DLJ Wrote:  "He's gone to a better place..."

[Image: heic1107a.jpg]

Dear DLJ....

I'm not sure I would use this gambit....because it infers directly a continuance of "life after death" when we know that there is no such thing.
Kids are smart....really, really smart. And to them, words have their simplest meaning! Given this explanation, I can hear one of my grandkids (2+ and 4+) asking, "when I die, will I see Grandpa in that better place??"
I've been reading the responses since the original posting, and while the "stardust" one appeals, the explanation might leave a young one more confused than comforted. After all, few four year olds can grasp the concept of "atom". But I do like the response!

"People don't go to heaven when they die; they're taken to a special room and burned!" Evil_monster
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14-11-2013, 10:18 AM
RE: How do you explain death to a child?
(14-11-2013 10:06 AM)RaisdCath Wrote:  
(14-11-2013 09:38 AM)DLJ Wrote:  "He's gone to a better place..."

[Image: heic1107a.jpg]

Dear DLJ....

I'm not sure I would use this gambit....because it infers directly a continuance of "life after death" when we know that there is no such thing.
Kids are smart....really, really smart. And to them, words have their simplest meaning! Given this explanation, I can hear one of my grandkids (2+ and 4+) asking, "when I die, will I see Grandpa in that better place??"
I've been reading the responses since the original posting, and while the "stardust" one appeals, the explanation might leave a young one more confused than comforted. After all, few four year olds can grasp the concept of "atom". But I do like the response!

Don't underestimate kids! My dad (engineer) and mom (mathematician) always answered all questions in detail from toddler onward, and they never dumbed anything down. My picture books were coffee table books for adults with wonderful pics on all kinds of topics, and I loved when they read the explanatory text to me.
I don't recall ever being confused. Incomprehensible atoms are no different from incomprehensible powers of a fairytale witch. Kids take these things in stride.

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Science is the process we've designed to be responsible for generating our best guess as to what the fuck is going on. Girly Man
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14-11-2013, 10:41 AM
RE: How do you explain death to a child?
(14-11-2013 10:06 AM)RaisdCath Wrote:  ...
more confused than comforted.
...

What comfort is needed?

I recall when I was 10 and my last grandparent died. My mother sat us down (myself and my older sister) and told us and they started crying. I picked up on their emotion but felt nothing, probably because I didn't understand the concept of death yet.

I did not need comforting.

I recall when my son (aged 4 or 5) tumbled down the stairs hurt his knee and my reaction was problem-solving i.e. rub it. He didn't fuss and just rubbed his knee and smiled.

My ex rushed in to the room at the sound of the fall. She was all corcerny and huggy. He picked up on her emotion and started to cry (a very delayed reaction).

He did not need comforting.

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