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Posted by: Unique | 2010/12/22

kids crying over deceased grandfather

My fathe died about 6 years ago. About 3 months ago my daughters (6.5 and 5 the) looked through our wedding album and saw a picture of him. they were asking questions like ''who is this , where is he..''about every one. when it got to his picture I said ''it''s your grandfather, he died''. to my surprise the old child started crying . she said she crying ''cos her grand pa died. I managed to calm her down and I felt so bad that I carelessly answered the question and did not thing about their interpretation of the situation.

about a month later the old child started crying again saying her grand pa died. did all the comforting again. last kwwek the younger child started crying -same reason. I''m getting concerned ''cos they only saw the picture 3 months ago and they still thinking about it. In the latest incident the older chir also started crying. in their tears they started saying one day their dad is gonna grow old and die like grand pa and one added and mom will grow old toand die too and there''ll be nobody to after us. we will go and llive in somebody else''s house. Itried my best to calm them down and I explained that by the time their mom &  dad are grand pa &  grand ma they will be mom''s so they won''t need looking after. this seemed to calm things but I''m not sure if''s the right approach to that I should use should the situation arise again.
1)am I not confirming their fears by saying we will die but hopefully they''ll be older.
2)Basically they are very lucky to have not known their grandfather. he was a terrible man. around the age of 10 I fantasized about life without him. they are REALLY lucky to not have him in their lives. When they I asked more questions about where he is I said he in ''he...aven'' with a stutter ''cos I was actually thinking hell.
3) should I be concerned about the fact that they still cry so long after seeing the picture.

The picture was not hidden I just never thought about showing to them and obviously I will never put of my father''s picture up for display.

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Our expert says:
Expert ImageCyberShrink

Sounds like a mild over-reaction, and possibly not actually ( though it would appear so ) about the death of the grandfather she never even met, but maybe more about her current awareness of and concerns about death ?
And indeed their later comments confirm this they're grappling with the idea that moms and dads also die, and then what will happen to the kids - and maybe even wondering whether they too will die at some time.
It was realistic to gently admit to them that eventually, everyone dies, but usually when they're old, and that they are not likely to be deserted before they are also adults and well able to care for themselves.
The crying is not about the picture or the man himself, but about the idea of death and finality and feeling potentially abandoned.
Maria's thoughtful response is really useful.
Like Maria, I wonder why this has become a major issue for them NOW, and it won't be about the photo - maybe there's been a death in the family of a friend of theirs.
I don't know that you need to get into the issue of your father having been an unpleasant person - they're upset about death, not so much specifically that he died, or that he personally was an enormous individual loss.

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Our users say:
Posted by: cybershrink | 2010/12/23

Sounds like a mild over-reaction, and possibly not actually ( though it would appear so ) about the death of the grandfather she never even met, but maybe more about her current awareness of and concerns about death ?
And indeed their later comments confirm this they're grappling with the idea that moms and dads also die, and then what will happen to the kids - and maybe even wondering whether they too will die at some time.
It was realistic to gently admit to them that eventually, everyone dies, but usually when they're old, and that they are not likely to be deserted before they are also adults and well able to care for themselves.
The crying is not about the picture or the man himself, but about the idea of death and finality and feeling potentially abandoned.
Maria's thoughtful response is really useful.
Like Maria, I wonder why this has become a major issue for them NOW, and it won't be about the photo - maybe there's been a death in the family of a friend of theirs.
I don't know that you need to get into the issue of your father having been an unpleasant person - they're upset about death, not so much specifically that he died, or that he personally was an enormous individual loss.

Reply to cybershrink
Posted by: Maria | 2010/12/22

Hi there. It''s difficult to tell kids that everybody eventually dies because they do interpret it literally and within their current frame of reference. However you cannot lie to them and tell them you will be there for them forever, because it isn''t true and you could die in a car crash tomorrow. I think you handled it well.

Have they recently experienced the death of a friend, family member, pet? Did a friend of theirs perhaps experience such a death? This might have triggered the tears. Give them lots of love and then try to distract them when the tears start.

If your belief system includes heaven and hell than it is probably worth sitting down and thinking very carefully about what you want to tell your children. It''s difficult to be positive about someone you didn''t like or love, and you will have to be very diplomatic in the way you talk about your father. If you have a priest / minister / spiritual advisor of some sort perhaps you can discuss this with him or her. You could tell them that you believe people''s spirits go to heaven when they die if they lived a good and honest life etc etc, whatever you really believe. If they insist on knowing where grandpa went then just say you don''t know, it''s not something that people can know about someone else sometimes. It''s not a definitive answer and they might not like it, but children need to learn that things in life (and death) are not just black and white, there is usually a lot of grey.

Also post to the parenting forum, although it''s very quiet there now someone might have advice.

Take care.

Reply to Maria

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