Death: how to explain it?

Asalaam Alaikum/Hi All
Well no need to beat around the bush; it is all going to happen to us one day. I have been thinking about death alot recently but I will leave that for another day – I don’t want to completely depress you all today!
I have a picture of my eldest brother in my living room. This brother died many years ago when he was 26 – inna lillahi wa inna ilayhi rajioon. (We belong to Allah (swt) and to him we shall return).

He would have been 42 this year.

The picture was tucked away in the corner of the living room. I had a bit of a clean over the weekend and removed some of the things that were in front of his picture. Munchkin today noticed it and actually asked who he was.
Now I want my daughter to know bout her uncle even though he died a long time before she was born. I am planning on telling her all about him inshAllah. This time though I kept it brief and said he was her uncle and if he was around he would have loved her very much.
Next question: ‘Where is he?’
Tough question considering I have not discussed death with her yet as I have had no reason to. Even though my brother died 15 years ago I still find it very difficult to talk about him. The circumstances in which he died were tragic and severely affected the whole family. We rarely talk about him because if we do we pretty much end up in tears, especially my mum.
I said he had died but clearly she didn’t understand. So I said he was in Pakistan (which is the truth as he is buried there). She seemed satisfied with that for now and went back to her game, leaving me to breathe a sigh of relief. I was getting emotional just explaining that to her! 
I don’t know whether to sit down and try to discuss it with her properly? I just think 5 is too young. Or am I being too over protective again?
If anyone has any tips on handling this I would be grateful to hear them. Have your young children had to deal with death in any way? How did you explain it to them?

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  • Assalamualeiki dear ukthi. I'm touched by your query dear sister in Islam. I believe that maybe you should try hinting a bit at it, explaining to your dear daughter that we all return to Allah Subhanahu wa Ta'ala so that we can get something better. When I was younger, my mum used to tell me how someday we wont be here any more, but rather we will inshAllah be in a better place, where we will get all which the heart desires at a simple thought, and I remember how happy i used to get at listening to that. I'm sixteen now, and Alhamdulillah, I'm glad my mum used to tell me such things at such a young age. And children really do understand, we really do tend to underestimate them a lot. They just ask a lot of questions, thats all . 😀 hehe
    I hope it works out for you inshAllah, and may Allah Subhanahu wa Ta'ala will keep you, your daugther and the rest of your family safe from the Hell Fire and always keep your happy and smiling andd reward you with jannah al firdaws, inshAllah wa ameen 🙂

    FiamanAllah

    -The Creative Muslimah

  • Wa alaikum asalaam sis. JazakAllah Khair for your kind comments.

    The only death munchkin has experienced is that of the goldfish dying! I'm afraid I lied and said he was sick and at the vets! She eventually forgot about him.

    You are right though, I should mention it in the way your mother has. MashAllah your mum sounds lovely.

    JazakAllah Khair sister for your lovely dua. I pray for the same for you too inshAllah x

  • Death is probably as you say the only thing we can completely sure about, yet is one of the hardest to get our heads round, even for adults let alone children.

    I think there are some things a child picks up as they grow up. And as long as you don't tell your little one that's he's on holiday or whatever she'll learn in time insha'Allah.

  • I would be inclined to agree with the other two posters, maybe to start hinting at it so that she has a vague understanding of it. My little one being only 3 months at the moment I haven't had to think about this sort of thing, so I was glad to come across your post as it gave me some food for thought! x

  • Death is always hard to deal with whether your are 5 or 50. At 5 I think she's too young to learn about it. But eventually as she grows up she'll learn about it [everybody does] and you can help her understnad it better.

    Good Luck x =]

  • I don't have children yet but I remember loosing my granddad when I was 6. All I knew is that he was not there anymore.
    Then my parents told me he was in a better place, up in the sky and even he was not physically there he would always be with me. That God calls us back to him anytime he wants, & that it is ok to be sad.

    Death is part of our life and I think there're too many emphasis on the negative aspects of it. Death is the end of us as bodies but there is another place we will go afterwards.
    Maybe you can start talking about it with her when the subject arises next time. Children are well able to understand. We always think we have to lie to them because they are too young or too sensitive, but surely saying the truth is the best to do (learned it from experience). Maybe your daughter won't understand everything but at least you will have explain it to her and if something happens she will be remember your words.

    Keeping you and your family in my prayers. Stay well always. xx

  • @Nas. Thank you for your comments. She was happy with the answer that he was was in Pakistan, because she didn't question it I didn't explain further. However she is a smart cookie and seeing as we are going Pak in Oct she will likely ask again. InshAllah I will find the strength to explain it to her properly.

    @mrs bellers. Thanks for visiting my blog! Yes I agree with you and the others, I do need to start hinting at it. She is a clever one and she should understand. I guess we just want to protect our little ones as much as we can x

    @Yours Truly Thanks for your comments. Yes I was thinking 5 is a bit too young, but I reckon if I hint at it in the way the others have suggested it should be ok.

    @MarieHarmony. So true, we shouldn't be so negative about it all the time. I lied about the goldfish because I panicked and didn't want to upset her. But I will not lie about her uncle. She did recently lose her great grandmother but because it happened in Pakistan I did not have to discuss it with her. Thank you for your advice xx

  • Asalamu Alaikum,

    We try to keep it simple as some other posters have said. When our son asks where is his Dadi(my mother in law passed away about 5 months before he was born), we tell him that she has died, and gone to Allah(swt). He doesn't really understand yet, but is starting to.

    Now though, he will step on a bug and tell me that he "died the bug", or last Eid when we had our sacrifice, he told me that the cow went to Allah(swt).