Mom Wonders How To Tell Her Toddlers That Their Teachers Died

It can be tricky to figure out how to speak to children about death and grief.

mom talking to kids Anton Mukhin / Shutterstock

A mom on Reddit revealed that she is having trouble coming up with an adequate way to talk about death with her two children.

Posting to the subreddit "r/parenting," the mom of a 2-year-old and 3-year-old admitted that after a tragic event recently happened, she is unsure if she should talk about it with them since they're so young.

The mom is confused about how to tell her toddlers that their teachers passed away.

In her Reddit post, she explained that death is often a taboo topic to discuss, especially with young children, but despite this, she still wants to be real with her toddlers in an age-appropriate way.


"Death is a part of life (oxymoron?) and I did tell them that our pet frogs died, and they seemed to handle that alright," she recalled. However, she acknowledged that there's a big difference between her children learning a pet frog they had for a few weeks had died versus hearing about the death of two of their teachers whom they have known for quite some time.

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"Sadly, in a random freak accident, both of these amazing and caring ladies have passed away in a car accident. As far as I’m aware, the bodies are in no state to be viewed as it was quite a traumatic car crash," she continued. 


Since the teachers who died had been a big part of her toddler's lives, they've all been invited to the funeral services. She pointed out that at first, she had no problem with telling them what had happened to their teachers, minus the graphic details, of course, and letting them attend the funeral services.

However, her parents immediately shot the idea down and were "stunned" that she even had any plans to tell her toddlers anything at all. "[They] told me to think twice before mentioning it at all, let alone bringing them to the funeral," she wrote of her parents' reactions.

"What is appropriate for their age? Would it be traumatic to tell them about the deaths? Is there any point [in] attending the funeral?" she inquired at the end of her post.

Many people agreed that she should inform her kids about their teachers' death, but hold back on taking them to the funeral.

"I’d probably not bring them to the funeral unless you are sure they would be able to sit quietly through it. I’d imagine they’ll have lots of questions during the service so you may end up having to step away," one Reddit user suggested. "I do think you should discuss what happened if you think they can handle it."


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Another user added, "I would tell them very simply they got in an accident and they died which means we won’t be able to see them again. Then maybe ask if they want to draw a picture to give to their families."

"I probably wouldn’t bring them to the funeral but would consider bringing them to the wake to bring the card/picture. I think the family would probably appreciate seeing some of the kids their loved ones impacted," they continued.

Navigating conversations about death and grief with children, especially toddlers, can be an incredibly challenging.

It is also quite a sensitive task, as children's minds may often struggle to grasp the finality of death. Parents are often advised to use honest and simple language to help prevent confusion and to be open to the multitude of questions they may have after learning about it.


“Using the word death is appropriate,” Linda Goldman, a therapist in Maryland whose work focuses on children and grief, told The Washington Post. “'Why do people die?’ a little child might ask. People die when they are very, very old or very, very sick or when the doctors and nurses can’t make their bodies work anymore. And you can vary that."

It's important to recognize that every child is unique and will most likely react differently to the topic of death. However, if parents approach the conversation with the correct tools, they can easily help their child maneuver through the complexities of loss and grief.

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Nia Tipton is a Chicago-based entertainment, news, and lifestyle writer whose work delves into modern-day issues and experiences.