How To Explain Death To A Toddler
This is such a hard one for me. In an ideal world I would not have to explaining to Elijah where his father has gone to, but I am finding that we do not live in an ideal world at all. I am so conscience of not having this situation hurt Elijah. I am already having nightmares about the father-son camp out at school and that Elijah has no one to take him. Who is going to run the Dad’s race for him at his school sports day? Do we just miss these day at school out all together? The other day one of Elijah’s friends was over to play and Elijah’s grandfather arrived for a visit. The little friend wanted to know if that was Elijah’s daddy. My heart just broke for him, I just want to protect my little boy and I really do not know how.
I am always talking about Darrell to Elijah and Elijah knows that his Daddy is in Heaven. But at times he will get confused and then think that Darrell is flying around in the sky in his big yellow helicopter. I then have to explain that he is far away in heaven keeping watch over us. He then tells me he wants us to go and visit him. I then am stumped as what to say. I know it is said that you must only give toddlers a small amount of information in these sorts of situations but whoever said that never had a nearly three year old boy. His questions never end. So I tell him that his daddy has died. He normally just accepts this but the other night we were having a chat while he was bathing and he suddenly started crying and told me he doesn’t want to die. My heart just shattered into a million pieces. Why does my child have to learn such hard lessons so early on? I am trying to give him the most magical of childhoods but there is always the fact that Darrell is not there. Elijah does not have anyone to play rough games with him, tease him and tickle him or to both gang up on mummy as a joke. He will never grow up surrounded by a loving couple doting on their boy. How is my poor boy going to know what a good loving relationship looks like? Who will he mirror his relationships on? These are things that keep me up at night.
Elijah goes to Sunday school most Sundays and his play school that he attends three mornings a week is very Christian based. At the end of last year he was so intrigued by the story of the birth of Jesus and he would retell it in graphic detail to anyone who would give him half the chance. Maybe this is the answer. To let him learn about death in a different context to that of his father, but then I am scared that this might confuse him more.
Elijah’s third birthday is coming up in less than a month. And while it is such a happy occasion that we both are so looking forward to and the party planning is well under way, it is always such a bittersweet time for me. I get so emotional not being able to celebrate another year of this beautiful child of ours with Darrell. I can just imagine Darrell getting so involved in all the party games and Elijah having a ball. At family braai’s before we had Elijah, Darrell would always be found outside playing with all the nieces and nephews. Whether he was playing some sort of trick on them or teaching them how to juggle that is where he would be. And obviously they would all just love him more for it.
So please think of us all in the coming weeks. While there is so much excitement about the coming birthday, Darrell is missed more than ever.