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My wife lost her mother 2 weeks ago. My mother in law took a lot of care of our son and every time we use to go she would be with him. She had been in and out of hospital but 90% she was in Hosptial. Lately he has been very crying baby and agitated. We told him grandma is sleeping with God. He sometimes understand, sometimes he is silent. My wife had fight with me that she want to take him to graveyard and I m not in the favour but one time she tried and got the answer as my son said he wanna go inside too. My wife is a hard person to make her understand. Can he feel and how to make him go through process.

Edit : He is 2 months less than 4 yrs old.

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Kids at that age understand that the people that they spend time with are not around. I'm not so sure that most of them understand the concept of death though. Death of anybody in a young child's life is a very hard concept to grasp. The same can be said about the concept of Heaven, God, or any other religious construct.

I went through a similar experience with my children (age 3 and 4 at the time). My mother passed away after a long illness and we explained to the children what happened. They had a very hard time with the concept of "death". After that they would play and the toys would "die" and then wake back up. We tried to explain that death is not something you ever wake up from, but the idea of something being permanent is not something they grasp.

What really helped more was explaining that Grandma wasn't feeling well and she had to go somewhere that she felt much better but couldn't come back. That Grandma still loves them very much but she couldn't be there anymore for them. That was something that they were better at accepting.

So no, I don't believe the child at that age can understand death. They may be depressed or sad that the person isn't around anymore. I think it's important to stress that the person still loves them very much, but they can't come around anymore. I don't know that a child can understand the concept of a graveyard or its purpose. It may be confusing to see the plot and explain that "Grandma is down there", especially when death is a concept they can't grasp. They may ask to go down and get them, or go see them. A child at this age can't process the idea of the body and soul being two separate things (if that is what your belief system is).

  • +1 for the "concept death" as "another place with no way back", I want to add: children can understand the graveyard as place, to remember the persons one is missing. So with the care about the grave, they could show their care about the good memories with the missed person. It could be a way for them to express their feelings. But one can choose another place for this expression too, like a place the grandmother and her grandchild loves to visit together. – Allerleirauh Sep 9 at 11:46
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Our now 2.5 year old lost a relative when she was 2. She attended the farewells at the funeral service, and got to put a flower on the coffin. She's been to the grave several times since, for the simple reason that we bring her wherever we go. But I can't see a point in avoiding it.

We talk about it quite a lot. Sure, she doesn't grasp the full gravity of what it means to be dead, but who does, really.

If it was an important person in your sons life he will obviously realize that she's not around, and the way I see it, death is one of few perfectly acceptable excuses not to be. If you're trying to have him believe something less definitive has happened, don't you run a greater risk that he will simply feel abandoned?

You're saying he sometimes understands, sometimes is silent. That he is crying and agitated. These all seems like perfectly adequate reactions. I don't get what you hope to achieve by keeping him away from the grave. The grave is a place for grieving and closure. Isn't he entitled to exactly that?

  • My wife and his brother spend hours next to grave. like talking to a person and it is forbidden in our religion because in our religion it says, visit grave for praying for dead and to remind yourself that this is the end. our son was saying, "i wanna go too here too". one of his uncle is trying to end himself by saying we will go soon and meet mama. would you keep ur son next a person who say like that? then issue of nightmare or being scared is another topic. – Nofel Sep 7 at 9:11
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    I can't comment on what your religion dictates. The issue about your uncle sounds to me like all the more reason to point to a grave and not an afterlife, but that's not my place. Being scared of death is not in itself problematic if you ask me. Death is scary, so that's still a perfectly valid feeling. – David Hedlund Sep 7 at 11:58

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