Someone on a parenting forum posted that she'd had a death in the family and was asking for suggestions on explaining to her 5yo and it got me thinking about how well my 6yo dealth with his first encounter with the death of someone he knew.
A few months ago, my son's daycare "Nana" (daycare providers mother) was killed in a car accident. At first I was dreading explaining what happened and how I would answer his questions. But I realized that it was better that he face this with someone he knew but wasn't close to before someone close does pass.
I found out as much as I could about the accident details, it was all over the news so it wasn't difficult. I explained to him that the truck she was riding in was struck by another car and that Nana died of blunt force trauma.
Yeah I know, what does a 6yo know about blunt force trauma? Well this one happens to be a science nut and a CSI and Bones addict. Before anyone calls me out for letting him watch shows like those, I don't let him see the first five minutes which is generally the violent part. But he understood the manner in which she died, knew that it was quick and that she didn't suffer.
Anyway, explaining the facts to him and not talking to him like a child really helped. He was sad and he cried. But he understood what had happened. The hardest part was trying to remind him not to say anything to upset the other kids by asking questions to them, but to ask an adult instead.
At the visitation, he walked up to Angela (daycare provider) and said "I know what happened to Nana." Her eyes went wide knowing that my son has a talent for saying whatever is on his mind. But he went on to say "She hit her head really bad and died." Angela hugged him and said that yes, that was what happened. I think she was relieved to not have to explain to another child what happened.
My kids might have their issues, but it just amazes me sometimes how incredibly smart they are. My kids have always loved to learn and I sometimes take that for granted.