Being honest about death

(45 ratings)
It's best to be honest about death mother daughter sad talking
My young daughters were very upset when their granny died three weeks ago. She'd been ill for a while and I'd prepared them as best I could but it was still quite a shock.

Caprice, who's 7, said, 'I knew she was going to heaven but I didn't expect her to go today'. I told them I hadn't either. I decided to be as honest and open with them as I could.

I made it clear granny wouldn't be constantly 'watching over them' because I think children find that quite scary. But I did say she was in heaven and if they wanted to talk to her, they should just go ahead. Jasmine, who's 5, said she'd just spoken to Granny and she'd said they could have a chocolate biscuit. It wasn't quite what I'd meant!

I was amazed when people asked me if the children were going to the funeral - of course they were! They had a day off school and I explained that granny was in the coffin because I thought it was important that they understood the physical reality of death too. They saw me cry but they saw me laughing too and enjoying 'granny's party'.

Continued below...

Afterwards, Caprice asked for 'proof' that granny was definitely in heaven. I told her granny would send a white feather and now we see a white feather in the park Caprice thinks granny's sent it. I definitely think being open about death has helped them come to terms with it.
Kate Oliver, 34, from Loughborough, Leicestershire

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My daughters dad died suddenly on Fathers day this year. She had just turned 10. I was overseas when I got the call and arranged a flight home asap,therefore she wasnt told till 2 days later which made her angry but I felt I should be the one to break the news. She took it very badly and I decided right from the start not to lie but be open and honest. I took her to the funeral with me and I think it helped her to accept her dad was dead but it was heartbreaking to watch her suffering and not be able to take away the pain. We were very close at this point but over the next few weeks she reacted with anger and to me its changed my little girl. I feel she is more grown up all of a sudden. Sometimes I cry even in front of her as I want her to know its ok to feel sad. She doesnt talk about losing her dad and due to this and the change in her moods I took her to the GP. She was referred to a great counsellor at the local childrens hospital and is about to go for her second appointment. It is a group for bereaved children where they become friends and do activities together and share feelings so now my daughter doesnt feel shes the only one going through this. Im not sure if ive handled things the right way or not by being honest and showing my feelings to her but the one thing about being a parent is you never get an instruction manual on leaving the hospital! Other things we've done is get a 'dad tree' which she can watch grow. She also has a 'dad box' for all her special keepsakes and on his birthday we will release balloons as another way of saying goodbye. I think what Im trying to say is I thought after a couple of months everything would be ok but its not so I hope Im doing my daughter right by getting her help from others.


My childrens grandad died 6 months ago now. My children were 3 and 4. I did not think it would have been a good idea for them to attend the funeral but they did come to the "picture party" afterwards. They made lovely A3 posters with a picture of themselves and their grandad in it and really enjoyed the party and meeting over 100 friends and family. They believe he is a star in the sky and often say goodnight to him. My 4 year old remains very vocal about his grandad and we talk over memories and look at photos, listen to my dad's CD of him singing a Christmas song and have even watched videos. My 3 year old wants to fly in a rocket to see him and therefore their grandad remains a very important figure in their lives. They do have concerns however about losing their granny now and feel very insecure when she leaves to go home after visits. My father's death was very sudden and we all thought he would have at least another 7-10 years but the unexpected often happens and it can be done and you can put your children's welfare and emotional needs first even when you are in dispair. They help heal the wounds and have certainly helped their granny.


The white feather was a nice idea for helping younger children come to terms with death. My mum passed away last year, I guess I have focused on my own grief, and have not fully addressed the impact of my childrens loss of their Grandma. My children did not go to the funeral as I thought I would have to "put on a brave face" in front of them. We do talk about the good times gone by, as it is important to keep memories alive, after all that's all we have in the end. Hannah,30, Cheshire

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