Being honest about death

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’.

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