making a point

Talking cremation vs burial with a four year old

Sometimes children do come out with random things out of the blue.

One evening as he was getting ready for his shower and bed, he just said ‘I want to see Grandma’.

I started a little, because my mum died nearly 2 years ago. ‘We can’t see her sweetie, she died remember’.

‘But I want to see her’.

‘Well, we can get some photos out, but she died, and isn’t around us anymore for us to see her in real life’.

‘Not photos, real Grandma’.

I had no idea what had prompted it, and usually he remembers and is the one saying to everyone ‘Grandma died’.

So I had to explain that she died in the hospice, and that meant she wasn’t on earth any more because she was cremated.  We can remember her in our head and memories, and look at photos, but there’s no body to look at.

‘Where’s her body?’  Uh oh. Why do children keep asking more.

‘She was cremated. That means when you die, your body is burnt in a special fire.  It burns a body so there’s ashes left. Like ashes that come out from our wood burner.  Then the family can sprinkle the ashes where they or the person who died wanted.’

‘Oh. Grampy has fires on the farm’ Not quite the same, I hope!  ‘Where did Grandma’s ashes go?’

‘In the pretty garden of rest at the crematorium, because that’s where she wanted to be sprinkled’.  Quiet, and deep in thought.

‘Can we go one day and see her?’.  It’s not really the things that our family would do because we don’t feel the need to but I suppose we might have to if N wants to.

Thankfully, that was the end of the conversation.  Once I’d told him that, he was happy and then went off to play.  Nothing’s been mentioned since so I’m thinking we might get off the topic of death for a while.

making a point
Making a point…literally at the ball! Good photo placement

What’s your children’s favourite topic of conversation at the moment?

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  1. Must be such a hard topic to talk about. My dad passed away before Blake was born and his middle name is after him so one day Im going to explain to him about death as I want him to know about his grandad in the sky.

  2. Kids minds are intriguing aren’t they! So innocent! .. My son went through a stage of asking about birth when I was pregnant with his brother. In the end I was totally honest with him, no stork talk! Xx

    1. I’m with you. N’s asked a few bits about birth – he knows he was cut out, and knows that girls have a 3rd hole that babies usually come out of, and that’s about all he asks. The OH jokes that he came from Tesco though

  3. Kids are so funny, they are really direct about things that adults find difficult to talk about, it can be really endearing. My Dad passed away earlier this year and was also cremated, it has always seemed to me a better way to go.

    1. They do. Thankfully it doesn’t worry me, but sometimes it is a surprise, and I wonder if he’ll go and tell other small children and upset them

  4. Thankfully i am lucky to still have my mum and dad around for Finn and Millie and no one close to us has died since they were born so the topic has never come up. But you dealt it really well, I suppose all we do is answer their questions as honestly as possible

  5. At the moment Lamb is too young to ask these sorts of questions, plus all of his Grandparents are alive, as are mine! We are very lucky. However the other day he pointed to a graveyard and said “what’s that?”, and even though he won’t remember I felt happy to explain it to him and teach him about where loved ones go when they pass away. x

  6. I haven’t even talked about burial vs cremation with my parents yet haha! Sounds like a very very wise 4 year old though 🙂 x

  7. Death and birth are such hard subjects to discuss with kids when they are young.All my kids are talking about at the moment is settling in the new school term.

    1. Guess that’s a big topic of conversation. Just wish N would be a bit more forthcoming about his school days, although he’s getting better.

  8. You coped with that conversation so well. I’m yet to have any difficult discussions as my little boy has delayed speech. It’s so interesting what children say

    1. We’ve had quite a lot of it, he’s often asking about Grandma, but we’d not had it for a while. Mostly it’s about what she was wearing when she died and whether she had clothes on!

  9. It’s funny isn’t it that they get a subject which they need to explore, even if it’s not one that adults are overly comfortable with. I think it’s better though to answer factually but simplified to satiate his need to know. Sounds like he got the answers he needed x

    1. Yes, I think so. Gradually he asks more information. I just wish it wasn’t about death, Bit depressing compared to all the other exciting things he could ask about.

  10. You handled it really well, I probably would have stuttered and stumbled! I work with kids every day and they do come out with the strangest questions sometimes. I would love to be in that mindset as an adult – not afraid to ask random questions out of the blue! 🙂

  11. Awww bless him! Children have a way of making us REALLY think.
    That’s why so many wise people say we need to tap into our inner child…such a lovely piece. Thanks for sharing.

    1. Thanks for your nice comment Ronke. So true, children really do ask those questions that make sense to ask when we think about them. Because so much of life doesn’t make sense, and there’s so much to ask

  12. Oh that’s a tough one. You see Reuben has talked a bit about death but cremation has never cropped up, he’s never gone so far as to ask. I love the fact that you were so honestly – it’s exactly how I would handle it to! H 🙂

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