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 Post subject: Talking to children about death
PostPosted: Wed Jul 31, 2013 8:54 pm 
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So the boy has been pretty morbid all along, but I think that the reality of death is going to become much more immediate in the next couple of days.

Tonight the boy and and I are going to give our guinea pig a bath and spend some time with him-- he's pretty old and over the past couple of days has stopped eating his treats and greens. That's bad for a guinea pig. He's been getting very old and has had the usual problems that afflict old male guinea pigs-- impacted poop, stuff like that. He doesn't move around much either, and not eating means his days are probably numbered in the single digits. I will be surprised if he makes it to the weekend.

So tonight we're going to give him a bath and scrub him and pet him and give him treats (he may or may not eat them) and give him hugs.

This is going to be a difficult conversation.

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 Post subject: Re: Talking to children about death
PostPosted: Wed Jul 31, 2013 8:59 pm 
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I would have a look at The Dougy Center's website.


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 Post subject: Re: Talking to children about death
PostPosted: Wed Jul 31, 2013 11:02 pm 
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Well, that was anticlimactic. I don't think he was listening very well, but maybe he's processing.

When Ianto is gone, I think it'll connect...

Thank you for the link.

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 Post subject: Re: Talking to children about death
PostPosted: Thu Aug 01, 2013 11:37 am 
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aww poor piggie, and I'm sorry for you guys...
our (possibly most beloved) cat died a few months ago, actually had to be put down pretty suddenly. Dahlia saw us cry a bunch but was weirdly, I don't know I think "anticlimactic" applies here too...we were pretty blunt "Hoya died" but for a while she thought he was still at the vet's but was not ever coming home. She didn't really care to talk about it much but once I said kinda firmly "He's not at the vet's", she did ask where he went. That was a tough one because we don't believe in heaven etc. It was late at night and we were both almost asleep and I said "he's just gone." So, now it's been like 4 months and she'll still occasionally randomly walk up to me and say "Mama, sorry Hoya died", like she wants to comfort me but doesn't care all that much herself? Pretty surprising to me, especially 'cause this particular cat was like her big buddy from early on. Kids are weird.


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 Post subject: Re: Talking to children about death
PostPosted: Thu Aug 01, 2013 7:38 pm 
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im really sorry about your piggie :-(

i dont have any advice (and it seems like you already had the chat) but i do remember i was 10 when we had to put our dog to sleep and i very clearly remember finding my mom and my brother outside petting the dog and my brther was crying and they were both very sad and my mom told me we had to put the dog to sleep and i dont think i really "got it" and i was 10. id have to ask my mom how i actually reacted but i dont think it was a big deal. sometimes i think kids process things differently than adults.

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 Post subject: Re: Talking to children about death
PostPosted: Sun Aug 04, 2013 11:07 am 
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We had a lot of animals when I was a kid and they all died of old age or old age related things. I honestly just accepted it as a part of life and didn't really get upset by any of them when I was younger. It wasn't until I was in my teens that I really started mourning the loss of my animal friends when the passed.

I don't remember exactly how my parents dealt with it except that I knew the animals were dead and not coming back. I think they tried to explain heaven to me (my parents believe in that) but I remember it all being very matter of fact. Like: Precious was really old and sick, now she is gone and isn't coming back, we believe that her spirit went to heaven (which I would have been fine without) and we're going to bury her body over here where you can visit her and talk to her if you want. Except most of our dogs are in pet cemeteries because they are large and my mom is freaked out by cremation. They also made sure that I had a picture of all of our animals... the past ones and the current ones, which was nice.


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 Post subject: Re: Talking to children about death
PostPosted: Sun Aug 04, 2013 11:42 am 
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The guinea pig seems to have recovered, I think? (Unless he's dead in there right now...) So that's good. Silly little critter.

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 Post subject: Re: Talking to children about death
PostPosted: Sun Aug 04, 2013 11:45 am 
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Yay for the elder pig!!! The piggie in my avatar lived forever with various health issues. Some of them are just fighters

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 Post subject: Re: Talking to children about death
PostPosted: Sun Aug 04, 2013 12:42 pm 
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Yeah, this is the guy who bit C&S and jumped and broke his leg and somehow recovered from that. He's had basically every nasty piggy disease (including "the lumps", which involved having giant pus-filled abscesses drained weekly for a while). He already started off with a disadvantage-- he was born to an escaped female pig in a high school and has some kind of weird thing where his front paws are turned under so he walks on his wrists. It makes trimming his nails difficult. And he's very small for an old pig. So basically he's been living on borrowed time his entire life. Now he's six or seven years old and still ticking along.

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 Post subject: Re: Talking to children about death
PostPosted: Sun Aug 04, 2013 8:43 pm 
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ahhh he sounds like he could have been pals with my dearly departed Oreo. by the time i put her to sleep she was 8 or 9 ish by best guess (i adopted her as a senior) and had the most ginormous tumor ive ever seen in comparision to the rest of her body. she lived with it forever. she just dragged it around like it was no big deal.

i hope he keeps truckin

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 Post subject: Re: Talking to children about death
PostPosted: Tue Aug 06, 2013 4:01 pm 
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F is a good bit younger that E but we've been wondering about this a lot lately too. We get gifts from the neighbor cat (who Freya adores) occasionally and we've been talking about not stepping on snails/bugs, etc. Then yesterday, we came across a rat that must've been injured (we saw nothing) by the side of the walking path and was struggling for life in the rain. It was immensely sad to me, and Freya was very intrigued, running down the path to Pappa (who was coming to meet us), saying "live! live! rat! sick!" She's not yet two, so I'm sure she can't have any concept of death really yet, but here we are. Whew.


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 Post subject: Re: Talking to children about death
PostPosted: Wed Aug 07, 2013 3:22 pm 
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FC had a slightly different upbringing from most kids, i think, since she was brought up amongst medical crisis for her first 5 years. At the end of that we lost two close family members, which at age 5.5 was really not even that impactful on her, to be frank. We were always in hospitals, we were always prepared for the worst, and at that age i don't think she perceived much. Even so, we tried to be really honest, as we always do.

About 2 years ago though her bird died, and at age 11 death was much more significant. The bird died in our arms (after being attacked by a dog, it was horrible) and while it was an unexpected shock, i wanted her to know that her surrounding the bird with love as it passed was more helpful than screaming or being hysterical. She spent almost two days crying in her room afterwards, but i asked her to write and to draw to the bird, about the bird, and to make something to remember him exactly as he was. We now have sketches and poems about Twee that she treasures. I don't have any good answers about where he went or what happened to his birdiness and I was pretty open about that. But I found that pushing her to commemorate his life was really healthy for her.
Depending on the kids' ages i think interest is variable. Responding kindly and truthfully is always a good thing, as is saying "i don't know" but adding things that might assuage fears you know are there, or diverting to talk about things you know are true, like what good care the kid took of the bird and how much better his life was because of it. And be alert- sometimes they ruminate on stuff for a long time and the real questions might come out later in a different form.

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 Post subject: Re: Talking to children about death
PostPosted: Mon Dec 28, 2015 1:04 pm 
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im bumping this up because i have a two fold question. one of our guinea pigs is doing very poorly (weird how this thread centers around various guinea pigs!) and i dont expect her to last through the day. she stopped eating and doesnt seem to be able to walk well so the end is near. BabyPunk is 2.5 and not terribly attached to them. i think she is more concerned with her stuffed guinea pig than the living ones.
normally i would just explain that the guinea pig died and that means it's no longer here (we are not religious). i told her this morning i was sad because my guinea pig didnt feel good and she didnt seem to phased by it.

here's my problem. this past weekend we took her to the movies to see the Good Dinosaur because she is totally obsessed with dinosaurs (side note the movie is pretty crappy and boring and has almost no dinosaurs in it) and in true Disney style they kill off one of the parents (the dad). it's at least pretty quick. the dad dinosaur and the little dinosaur are chasing the little caveman kid through basically i guess a ravine type thing next to a big river and a flash flood comes and the dad pushes the son up to safety and then the dad gets washed away.
so BP has been talking about how the little dinosaur was crying. she keeps saying that (she also talks about how she cries at playgroup so crying seems to be a thing she talks about). im not actually sure the dinosaur cries in the movie but he gets sad and he's a super scaredy dinosaur and is constantly running from things in the movie so we talked about how he was sad and that he got scared alot and that its ok to cry or be sad but sometimes when you do things things that scare you it turns out ok and you have fun (i was trying to talk about the dino being scared and facing his fears because this relates directly to her being scared of everything, i wasnt trying to bring up the dad dying i was trying to gloss over that). so then she decided her big stuffed apatosaurus was "dada dopo" (she calls all long necked dinosaurs "dopo" because we said one plastic one she has is a diplodicus so she got dopo out of that) and she would say how the little dinosaur cried and then she would bring up the dada dopo. so i said that the dada dopo got hurt and did that scare her and we talked about that and i asked her if she got scared, etc. i just said he got hurt im not sure where to go with this.
the issue is that my husband just left this morning to go to TX for work and will be gone for 3 days so i dont think it's good timing to talk about father's dying.

am i overthinking all of this?

i told her a few times that the dada dopo got hurt and then i would tell her it was just a movie and it's not real.

it's possible she doesnt understand the dad dinosaur died because it was quick and then they just show a gravestone and at some point in the movie the son has basically a hallucination/dream about him and im not sure a 2 year old can grasp that concept.

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 Post subject: Re: Talking to children about death
PostPosted: Mon Dec 28, 2015 1:15 pm 
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When Cuddles died, L was about 3 years and 4 months. It really didn't seem to phase her. She will still say she misses him, but I've read that children don't connect with grief until they're around 6, and can grasp the permanence of death and what that really means.

I just went with whatever L was feeling, we kept our expressions of loss and sadness pretty mellow - we'd be upset together when she was in bed- and we talked about what it meant to miss him etc. She brings it up a lot, especially to other people with dogs, but its never from sadness, just a way of connecting and getting people to pay attention to her, I think, so she can feel like she has something to say.

We don't believe in Heaven, so a lot of people will tell her "Oh your dogs in Heaven!" And that has been awkward to explain that some people believe in Heaven because it gives them comfort, but it doesn't mean that it's real. I really find the whole "OH YOUR DOG IS IN HEAVEN LOOKING DOWN ON YOU FROM A FIELD OF MILKBONES PLAYING TAG WITH GOD" annoying. Though, it's funny that L thinks that Heaven is on Mercury, because when people say it's in the sky she assumes they mean a different planet.

I honestly think that a very simple age appropriate explanation is the way to go.

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 Post subject: Re: Talking to children about death
PostPosted: Mon Dec 28, 2015 7:08 pm 
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with the guinea pig i think im going to wait until my husband gets home to mention it to her. she did end up passing away today but i managed to take her out of the cage and she is wrapped up in a zip lock bag in my freezer and we will bury her when my husband gets back. i dont think she'll noticed there is one pig missing from the cage even though she knows which one is which and can name them. the cage is huge and they all have hidey huts so i dont think she'll notice.

im just not sure how to talk about the dino in the movie that dies.

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 Post subject: Re: Talking to children about death
PostPosted: Wed Dec 30, 2015 3:03 pm 
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My kid has been talking about death a bit lately. It started with him saying "(paternal)granddad is dead". It took a while for me to figure out that my mother had taken him to the graveyard to decorate a family grave, and told him her granddad was in that grave. He thinks dead people can fly, but not talk, and are invisible. I say "some people believe that, and some people think other things".

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 Post subject: Re: Talking to children about death
PostPosted: Wed Jan 06, 2016 8:36 pm 
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so we ended up telling BP that the guinea pig died and i dont think she understood which is fine she's only 2.

i told her to look in the cage and i told her Pelly was gone and she had died and now we just had Pinky and Phoebe (the 2 other pigs). i told her she was old and she had died which meant she wasnt here anymore.
what she took from that was "Pelly is old" which she repeated a lot.
then last weekend we buried her in the backyard which at first i was just going to have my husband do by himself and i was going to keep BP inside but he thought she should be part of it which in the end i think was the right thing so we went over it again and i told her we were going to bury her and say goodbye and how i was sad that Pelly was gone but it was ok blah blah blah. she didnt actually see her because i had her wrapped in a towel but she watched us bury her and basically she went back to "Pelly is old" over and over every time we saw the other two guinea pigs. so i told her a few times "Pelly WAS old and then she died" which meant she wasnt here anymore and i told her guinea pigs had a short life span but humans had a long life span, etc.
she didnt seem upset or worried i was just trying to have her understand that old and dead dont mean the same thing.

so that's all fine i dont really need her to have a concrete grasp on death or anything but she keeps talking about the dino movie. she keeps bringing up the fact that the little dinosaur cries and he was sad and then that the daddy dinosaur got hurt (this is what i told her, he actually dies)

i dont know if she just likes to talk about things that cry because she also talks about how she cries at playgroup (a whole other issue) or if she is just trying to work out what happened to the daddy dino.

DAMN YOU DISNEY FOR ALWAYS KILLING OFF PARENTS!!!!

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 Post subject: Re: Talking to children about death
PostPosted: Thu Jan 07, 2016 6:26 am 
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From my adventures in child development--- 2 is when kids are just starting to grasp emotions, so she talks about what she can relate to. (coincidentally this is a good time to start teaching kids to use words for emotions instead of hitting each other or throwing things when they are hungry or angry or sad [we spent a lot of time on this]). She might be really into books that talk about emotions (i want to say some eric carle books are pretty good for this but i can't remember which ones, someone was grumpy maybe?).

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 Post subject: Re: Talking to children about death
PostPosted: Thu Jan 07, 2016 9:05 am 
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that's a good point about the emotions. completely unrelated to the dinos and piggies dying issue i have been reading a book about helping kids who have anxieties and fears and it does a good job talking about how it's appropriate to deal with it by age group and one of the things it was saying about younger kids is you may have to actually start first with talking about emotions and showing them pictures of various faces to explain emotions because they dont have the cognitive capacity yet to discuss how they feel.

so i wonder if that's why she keeps bringing up the dino in the movie crying? she can relate it to her crying? i keep talking about how the dino was scared a lot and he cried but it's ok to cry and sometimes we get scared, etc etc etc. but he did something that was scary to him and he learned he was ok and had fun (this all relates to me trying to get her to go to playgroup). i thought we were having good discussions about it but then she keeps bringing it up. i cant figure out if she's just talking about it because she talks constantly or if she's trying to work something out.
i think maybe talking about emotions is a good idea.

our OT is coming over today for our regular appt so im gonna ask her what she thinks.
not that this is a huge deal im just trying to figure out what's going through her brain.

she literally just started talking about it again as im sitting here typing this. she's playing wiht one of her dinos and shes saying how he cries and the daddy dino fell or something. but then she started talking about some other random thing so who knows.

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 Post subject: Re: Talking to children about death
PostPosted: Thu Jan 07, 2016 9:39 am 
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yes, she is just sorting it out. when kids hit developmental milestones sometimes they do the new thing constantly (at the expense of other skills, at times). She is learning how to talk about emotions because it is something new she just gets. Trying to have discussions about cause and effect and implications is more than she can handle yet-- right now she understands that crying is for sad. Def talk to the OT and I think you will feel a bit better.

(discussions and reasoning really don't work til much later, and don't be tempted to read too much into it. watching therapy with little kids and non-neurotypical kids was so enlightening- our therapist used to work with what the girls were capable of understanding and it was like another language because she would skip entire fields of things that were not even on their radar and really work on other things that were more important. I had an educational background in child development from my teaching certificate and it was so interesting to see the emotional development alongside the intellectual development.)

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 Post subject: Re: Talking to children about death
PostPosted: Thu Jan 07, 2016 6:21 pm 
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i didnt really get to talk with the OT much about it because we had 1000 other more important things to talk about but i brought it up briefly before she left and i think secretly she was thinking "why did you bring a 2 year old to a Disney movie which we all know are inappropriate for young kids" hahaha
but she kind of said to just make it a non issue about the daddy dino.

i think you are right though that she is just repeatedly talking about it because it's a new thing she gets

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 Post subject: Re: Talking to children about death
PostPosted: Thu Jan 07, 2016 11:23 pm 
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When they are trying to figure stuff out the repetition can be incredible. Affirm, move on.


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 Post subject: Re: Talking to children about death
PostPosted: Fri Jan 08, 2016 1:49 pm 
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yeah i noticed she was pointing out emotions of faces in books last night when i was reading to her. usually my husband does story time so i hadnt noticed this so i guess that is the new developmental thing she is on.

her new thing is saying when things are scary too regardless of whether they are actually scary to her (playgroup, dentist) or they are silly scary like when her toy dinosaur opens his mouth wide and shes like "ooh hes scary now hahahaha!!!"

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 Post subject: Re: Talking to children about death
PostPosted: Fri Jan 08, 2016 2:22 pm 
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http://www.amazon.com/My-Heart-Feelings-Growing-Hearts/dp/1419713108/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1452280819&sr=8-1&keywords=in+my+heart+a+book+of+feelings

This is an incredible children's book to help with feelings and how to identify them. We've given copies to all of the little ones in our lives.

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