Talking to my 6yr old about death

So, a couple of weeks ago my 6 year old and I were watching TV and I can’t quite remember what it was about but there was a grave yard in one of the scenes and he asked me what it was. So I started explaining, here’s how it went:

me: That’s where people go when they die (realising this won’t make sense to him, before I have a chance he jumps in)

son: but I don’t see anyone there…

me: They get buried under the ground, you see under each of those stones, there is person’s body there

son: But why didn’t they just take them to the doctor?

me: When someone dies, the doctor can’t fix them, the doctor can’t make them better. Their body dies but they don’t die, their spirit is still alive. Do you know what your spirit is?

son: No

me: It’s your mind, your thoughts, your feelings, your personality,  your body doesn’t have to be alive for your spirit to be alive, your spirit never dies

At this point I’m thinking, ‘oh God, what have I got myself into?’.

Anyway, so I go on explaining about it and at one point I ask him if he’s ever seen my dad, and he obviously says ‘no’. So then I say ‘do you know why?’ and he replies ‘because he died when you were little’. At this point I nod and say ‘yes but I know that he is always here, if I need to speak to him I can, even though I can’t see him and I know he looks after me to make sure nothing happens to mummy’. By now, something I never thought I would see in a 6 year old emerges, I look at him and his eyes are watering and tears are rolling down and my heart just goes. I ask him why he’s crying and he tells me it’s because I don’t have a dad. I didn’t want to dwell on it too much but it was so heart warming to see that a 6 year old boy could feel that much empathy for another human being. I then lightened the moment by telling him that’s why I call him ‘Daddy’, I asked him a question which I’ve asked many times before as a joke; ‘will you be my daddy’, to which he always answers ‘no’ to cause he probably thinks how weird, but this time he said ‘yes’ for the first time.

I for one do not know if I had done this the right way or not, but he asked and I answered. I can honestly say that I think I did the best I could and in the end we shared an embrace and I know he understood what I had told him. So one day when I go, he will remember this conversation and won’t feel alone, that I will always be there when he needs me, no matter what.

Thoughts please…

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4 thoughts on “Talking to my 6yr old about death

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