A father was at the beach with his children when the four-year-old son ran up to him, grabbed his hand, and led him to the shore where a seagull lay dead in the sand.
‘Daddy, what happened to him?’ The boy asked
‘He died and went to Heaven,’ the Dad replied.
The boy thought a moment and then said,
‘Did God throw him back down?’
I know this is a funny story but it also shows how direct and immediately honest children can be in their thoughts. If you take children out in nature regularly, sooner or later they will see the dead body of one of one of our fellow creatures.
Hiding death from children is not helpful, it is better to let them see the dead seagull. It’s a good introduction to the subject of death to see it out in the landscape. Humans are part of the natural world and death is a natural part of the lifecycle of the planet. You can explain this to children and it will help them to understand that when a human dies it is part of their natural place in the world too.
Younger children tend to be more matter of fact about these things in general. It is only as they get older they take on adult attitudes to what surrounds them. The earlier it is when you start these discussions the easier it will be for your children to understand, and accept, death in their world.