Talking to Preschoolers About Death

I knew it was waiting for me. The day my children would ask me about death–and more specifically, why their maternal grandmother died. I didn’t think it would come quite so soon. But along came the questions, at bedtime a few weeks ago.

“Mama, where’s your Mommy?” my 4-year-old Noah asked, his elfish voice brimming with sweet curiosity. “She’s in heaven,” I replied, bristling at the stale rhythm of the words.

“But why?” Noah wondered.

As simply as possible, I explained that she had grown very sick and had to leave. She was of course sad to go, but she was now safe, resting with Jesus Christ.

“Did you cry, Mommy, when she walked away to Jesus?” Noah asked. “You’ll never see her again!”

“Yes, I cried a lot. But I will see her again. One day, in heaven. And so will you,” I said.

Timeouts and fussing aside, sometimes my preschooler is wise well beyond his four years

Timeouts and fussing aside, sometimes my preschooler is wise well beyond his four years

“OK, Mommy. But do some parents leave because they don’t want to be with their kids any more?” he asked.

Sometimes my preschooler gives me a glimpse into the profound depth of his little soul.

I reassured Noah that my husband and I do everything we can to stay healthy and safe, because we want to be with him and his sister for as long as possible. We’d rather not die anytime soon. “With you is our favorite place to be, and we love you very much,” I continued.

Fading into slumber, he seemed satisfied. I’ll save for another day the part of the conversation where I explain that death comes to all of us, even Moms. It’s part of life, and we shouldn’t fear it. I’ll also let him know that I’ve not fully grasped all of this yet.

Honesty is easiest, especially when it comes to preschoolers.


1 Comment
  1. It’s tough to explain to my son why I didn’t have a mommy. He hasn’t asked about it for a year or so, but it’ll sneak its way into conversation every so often. Not my favorite questions to answer, but I’m glad I can answer it in faith.

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