Tuesday 12 November 2019

Dear David Coleman: We are worried our son will ask about his grandfather's death

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Photo posed
David Coleman

David Coleman

Q My husband's father passed away years before I met him. My four-year-old son is very chatty and asking loads of questions and, while he hasn't asked us directly yet about this grandad, we both feel it's only a matter of time before he does ask us this or a similar/related question. How do we answer without confusing, frightening or upsetting him?

David Coleman replies:  You can answer him directly, telling him that his grandad is dead, and that he died many years ago. Death is a completely natural and normal part of life and it is important we don't shy away from discussing it with our children - even four-year-olds.

Naturally, your son may have further questions about death like, what it means, what happens, what it's like, or whether his grandad is happy or sad or such like. He is likely to think in very concrete ways and so might want answers that fit with what he can already see, touch, hear and so on. These are the opportunities for you to share your understanding of death and whatever beliefs you have about death that serve to either reassure you, or at least allow you to accept it.

Your son may be sad, frightened or confused, but that is not a problem as long as you are willing to keep talking with him and emotionally supporting him.

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