I recently lost my step-mom to stage 4 cancer. It’s unbearable…losing a loved one. This is the sort of pain that I vigilantly protect my children from. I get in mother bear mode and don’t want them to hurt at all. But then came the questions as the whole family was on the way to visit my dad after she passed.
“Will Grammy be there? What happened to her? Where is she?” The kids were firing so many questions at me from the backseat of the car as we made our way to Papa’s house. I tried to lovingly explain to them that we had told them that she was very sick and we were so sad that she didn’t get better. This happens sometimes. Explaining death, sadness, loss, mourning to toddlers…isn’t at all how I pictured my Thursday drive. My mind was racing for answers, while operating a motor vehicle. I needed an answer that would not pain them too much. I tried to think of how they could relate to it best. It was on the fly and maybe not the correct answer…but it was what I went with and what worked for us.
I talk to them about Baymax. “Remember in the movie when Tadashi dies and Hero is so sad?” They did. “Well that’s sort of what happened to Grammy. She is in Heaven now. Up in the the clouds. She is with God.” I combined the animated film with our religious beliefs in a way that helped them grasp what had happened in our own family. *Obviously my version didn’t include the fire in the movie…in case you were wondering.* As a mom of less than 5 years I am still new at this “game” and these tough questions sometimes catch me off guard. This tender conversation was not without sadness but my kiddos seemed to understand what I was attempting to share with them on that ride from daycare to Papa’s house.
I wasn’t prepared for this. I’m sure there are better ways to talk about death with your kids but that is how in .5 seconds I was able to ease them through this difficult topic. Since then I have done my research and am prepared for more questions. We still have the service (family remembrance gathering – not a funeral) and tons of family coming in town. Will I have them there? I don’t know. I want to protect them but I don’t/can’t know all the correct answers to difficult situations.
I always wondered about Disney and death. So many of the stories have death right at the center of the story….why!? I used to think, “These stories are meant for children for goodness sakes.” Frozen, Up, Bambi, Nemo just to name a few. But today I’m thankful that they do so that I’m able to communicate to my children loss of a loved one. I was able in moments to parallel the pain that Hero felt. Sure it seems kind of hokey as I’m writing it here. But you know what’s not silly…that in those few moments I could communicate all that complexity of death and sadness that us adults struggle with to my wee ones.
I’m always one to help out another mom! So I have put together a simple printable that can be used as a get well or to help you prepare for those tough questions that little ones have that I was not ready for. If you are the ladder I would just like to say I’m so sorry for your loss. Prayers to you and your family.
What you will need:
- Treats (I suggested Oreos or Marshmallows)
- Ziploc Sandwich Bag
- Big Hero 6 – Free Baymax Feel Better Printable Card
I presented these to my kiddos and told them they were Baymax eyes. It turned frowns to smiles as we snacked on sweets while talking about some tough news.
See more of Rachel’s posts HERE.
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