Author Topic: A two year old tries to figure out death...  (Read 1399 times)

mo12

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A two year old tries to figure out death...
« on: March 02, 2016, 06:00:57 PM »
So I'm sure there have been many posts about this- how to talk about death in concrete terms while helping your littles keep a connection to their parent who has died... My daughter was only two months old when her dad died, she's now 2 and a bit and talking non-stop, most of it I understand! 
I do mention her dad quite a bit (if we are doing something he liked to do, when she reminds me of him, etc.) so I'm sure some of it is sinking in.  She has her own perspective though on who daddy is and where he is... once it was "daddy's in the picture" (of course, that's the only place she remembers seeing him is in pictures) and this morning as I was putting her into her car seat she says "I fly!  Up to the moon to see daddy!"  Now I don't know where she got that idea, I don't talk about heaven, or him being "in the sky."  Once visiting friends she really latched on to my friend's husband, they have a little guy her age and I think maybe she thought for a second it was her dad too? She called him daddy right away (which she has never done with other little friends' dads) and just looked at him with stars in her eyes.  I explained it was her friend's daddy and she seemed to get it...
On the two year anniversary of his death I told her "I miss daddy" and she says "daddy go home.  be with his friends." ??? Whoa. It is amazing and hard to see her try to figure this out... or maybe she knows more than I do??  Any experiences to share on talking about death and the parent they've lost at this age (2-3)? 

Portside

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Re: A two year old tries to figure out death...
« Reply #1 on: March 02, 2016, 09:37:19 PM »

On the two year anniversary of his death I told her "I miss daddy" and she says "daddy go home.  be with his friends." ??? Whoa. It is amazing and hard to see her try to figure this out... or maybe she knows more than I do??

My kids were a bit older than your daughter so I don't have any direct experience but you know, when I die, at whatever age, I pray my experience is to "go home" and "be with my friends".

That young lady is on to something.  :)

Best wishes - Mike
The war is over for me now. But those of us who did make it have an obligation to build again, to teach to others what we know, and to try with what's left of our lives to find a goodness and a meaning to this life.

Captains wife

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Re: A two year old tries to figure out death...
« Reply #2 on: March 03, 2016, 06:55:02 AM »
I found the following book very helpful- Talking to Children About Loss by Trozzi. I also met her in person for a briefing session. My son was 9mths when my husband was killed in an accident and we really started to deal with his fathers death around ages 3-4. I didn't know how to deal with it and skirted around the issue by saying his daddy was in heaven but loves him and is looking out for him. I found out from this child grief therapist that that approach is confusing for a child as they don't understand that heaven isn't a place you can't come back from so they wonder why their dad doesn't want to/can't see them. So I sat my son down at age 3.5 and explained very clearly what happened, that his dad died, how it happened, but did it in kids terms (i.e. his body stopped working) and also made sure he felt safe, that this didn't happen all the time and we were all there for him (me and our families). It's heartbreaking but he is almost 5 now and the concepts seem to be understood. He talks about it freely, with some sadness but also matter of factness. Think Sesame Street also did an episode on death - and he watched that. Hope this helps- if you have any questions etc feel free to PM me. All the best,
« Last Edit: March 03, 2016, 07:16:25 AM by Captains wife »

canadiangirl

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Re: A two year old tries to figure out death...
« Reply #3 on: March 04, 2016, 12:53:04 AM »
Hi mo12, I love what your small one said - I do like to think they know more than we do about what is happening around us. 

The day my husband died of cancer (so I had warning) I insisted on being the one to break it to our 5 year old, and I used this really good educators' guide from Scholastic called "After a Loved One Dies" in the .pdf at this link http://www.scholastic.com/browse/article.jsp?id=3757796 to shape what I was going to say.  I do believe the four basic concepts about death on pages 4-5 are important, but it sounds like you probably have covered this already.  In any case, I found it a useful tool and truly believe that how I messaged things then has helped promote my child's understanding now, if that makes sense.  Your child sounds like a very perceptive human being.  Your post touched me, thanks.

newnormal14

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Re: A two year old tries to figure out death...
« Reply #4 on: March 04, 2016, 11:20:25 AM »
When my now 22 year old daughter was 3, my dad died.  I was so close to my dad and devasted.  We never really went to church when she was young, and we never talked about death and dying.
 On the day of the funeral, my daughter and I went up to the casket before everyone arrived to say "good-bye" to him in peace.
I bent over and kissed him, then asked my daughter if she wanted to say good-bye to papa.  She looked at him and looked and me. She gently took my hand and said: Mama, that is not papa. That's just the body he lived in.  Papa is home now...
That moment truly changed my life and how I see things. 

ieh21

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Re: A two year old tries to figure out death...
« Reply #5 on: March 11, 2016, 02:45:31 PM »
My DD turned three the day after he died. She came to me one day with the phone and asked me to call DH at the hospital because she wanted to know something. I had to sit her down to tell her he died. I did do a lot of talking about him being "in the sky". She's found a lot of comfort in this. I think she is now old enough (8) to understand that I don't mean this literally. But around 3-4 she's also said things like "we should die fast because we want to see daddy soon". or, "if I die when I'm old, will daddy remember me?"

My second DD was three weeks old. So she doesn't know what it's like to have a dad. She is now 5 and she's never really seemed interested in him when she was growing up. I talk about him once in a while, we go visit their paternal grandparents, but overall, she's shown little interest. She's also grown up with the idea that he is "in the sky". We send up helium balloons on special occasions, with cards or drawings for him. That seems to have captured her imagination because every time she is given a balloon she wants to send it up to him. And she said to me, as we were boarding a plane, that she wanted to sit at the window seat in case we get a glimpse of daddy in the sky.

Overall, they're mostly matter-of-fact about it. Someone will say "how come you have no daddy in your house?" or "where is your daddy, why isn't he at your birthday party?" and either of them will respond "my daddy is dead, silly!"

They do attach very much to the men in our entourage. The Eldest especially in the first years, would climb on any male friend's lap and seek his attention. That's calmed down now, for both of them. They are comfortable with some of the adult men they know, and no longer seem to seek out men as ersatz dads. Let her express what she wants to express and take it very much at face value. Kids are rarely very much at a second degree. Sometimes they say things so literally that it's hard for us to understand.