“What does die mean Mummy?” Nothing like frank conversation with a 3 year old…

Fri 16 Sep 16 | Mummy Stuff | 6 comments


M is currently fascinated with death. I’m not going to lie, it’s pretty awkward. Especially the questions in public. Museum – “How did HE die daddy? Is he really dead? What about her?” Squashed insect on the pavement – “Mummy that fly is DEAD! Look – DEAD!” (gasp).With best friend in garden “I’m gonna make you dead, then you have to fall on the ground and go rahhhh”.

I think it started when we went for a walk in our beautiful, local cemetery. Yeah I know. Cemetery = graves = dead people = questions. Derr. M had just got his balance bike and I was heavily pregnant and just needed to get him out of the house (I swear my son is just like a dog, he stays in longer than 2 hours and he’s desperately pawing at the door, or actually just starting to massively play up and either lash out madly or flop around whingeing – not sure which one is more annoying).

So we were wandering around looking at the gorgeous church and flowers and then, inevitably… “Mummy what are all the stones in the ground? What are the words on them? What does die mean?” Ah. I had stupidly not prepared for this moment. I’ve always been keen to be honest with my small people about life and not dress things up or be scared to tell them the truth – but suddenly I felt very vulnerable and way too responsible for this…

My best effort went something like this:

Me: When people get very old, or very poorly, they fall asleep and sadly don’t wake up.

M: Like at the theatre when Mr Bloom woke the lady up with a kiss? (this surprised me as Sleeping Beauty was 6 months ago at the panto).

Me: Ummm, yes. Except a kiss wouldn’t wake them. They’ve gone to a happy place where we can’t go.

M: Why can’t we go there?

Me: Because we’re alive.

M: When can we go there?

Me: When we’re very old or so poorly that we die. (Cringe.)

Big pause. I feel a bit sick.

M: What does die mean again Mummy?

Repeat conversation. Try to change conversation.

Where’s ‘That’s Not my Coffin’ when you need it?

I’m sure there must be decent books out there on this kind of thing, but I’ve yet to investigate. I’ll put this one off as long as I possibly can…


Just a pic of some nice flowers the husband bought me. Why not.

The Pramshed


  1. Sunita

    Goodness, this is a tough one. No idea how I’ll deal with it when Big Munch starts asking about it. Having seen my friends and in-laws having to explain bereavements to children, all I know is that children do need to understand more about death (and that sadly someone or something isn’t going to just reappear tomorrow). xx

  2. suz

    This is a tough question. Goodbye Mog by Judith Kerr (about when Mog dies) was a great starting point with my kids.
    You did a great job with your off-the-cuff explanation btw 🙂

  3. alifeinpracticeblog.com

    It is difficult. We just lost my boys beloved great-grandmother. It was difficult explaining to my almost 4-yr-old that she was gone and not coming back, even though he’s already been through that fascinated by death stage. Now every time we go visit great-granddad he tells us the spare chair is for Nanny. Sounds like you did well xx #fortheloveofblog

  4. Angela Watling

    Awkward conversation – I’m not sure I would know what to say either. I’m sure I read somewhere once that children can’t begin to comprehend death until they are about 5 – 6 years old or something. Hopefully he won’t ask again for a while! #fortheloveofBLOG

  5. Emma

    awww weve had some questions on this too all after a Halloween book. I pretty much said the same thing about getting old or really ill. then the other day in the pram he pipes up, out of nowhere “im going to die when I get old. not now” and it broke my heart a little bit when he said not now. #fortheloveofblog

  6. The Pramshed

    Ah really tough conversation, sounds like you handled it brilliantly. I’m already dreading these types of conversations with my daughter. Thanks so much for linking up at #fortheloveofBLOG. Claire x



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