A Day in the Life: Conversations with Stella

A couple months ago our dear friend Amos passed away from cancer way before his time.  It's been a bit of a tough time.  He died on Alice's birthday and then we had the difficult task of explaining to Stella that he had died.  She knew he was sick but her only experiences with death were from leaving her captured potato bugs in a bucket too long.

At first she seemed to get it with very few questions.  But as time goes on, maybe because she's developing a greater sense of self and existence, she's continually coming back to his passing.  Every night for the past few weeks she continually brings it up.

Why did Amos die?
Why did he get cancer?
When will I die?
I'm sick....will I die?
When will you die?
What if everyone dies?
What happens when you die?

And then it inevitably turns to tears and through the nose blowing and eye rubbing comes "I don't want to die. I don't want you to die.  I will miss you when you die." Absolutely heartbreaking for me to see my baby so upset and I'm trying really hard not to break down with her.

So what we've been doing is having some nice cuddles at bedtime and we talk about how Amos is an angel now and he's watching over her; how he wants to know everything that she's doing and how she's growing up.  So we talk to him with our hearts when we go to sleep.  I explained we don't use our words, just our thoughts and send them up to Amos.
Stella & Amos in deep discussions over hotdogs

Each night, as we sit on her bed now, she tells me it's time to talk to Amos.  And she demands that I be quiet and talk like this: picture a 4yr old sitting in her pyjamas with her mouth zipped closed just gently nodding as she's sharing her day with her angel.

As sad as it makes me, I really love the fact that she was so touched by him and we will always keep his memory alive. I hope she never stops talking to her angel.

Have you had to explain death to your children? Did you use any particular techniques to help them cope with loss?
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