I need your advice. My daughter is a 3-year-old. My father is dying of cancer and she is very close to him. She talks about him constantly. She talks about him more than anyone besides her parents.
I'm very concerned about what to do for the viewing and funeral when my dad does pass away.
I think it will be traumatic for her. What should I do and how do I explain it to her?
I want to make it easy for her, but I'm not sure how to explain it or explain why everyone is crying. I think she will be very concerned to see me cry.
In this counseling answer:
Educate her on Allah as the creator and how we all have to go back to him and some point. It is time for her grandfather and you can pray together that he will go to Jannah and all the nice things he will see there.
Allow her to grieve. Allow her to cry. These are all natural responses.
Regarding the funeral, you could educate her about it and what will happen.
After his death, talk together about him. Remember the happy times you had together, focusing on the positive rather than the sadness relating to his death.
Wa alaikum salaam wa rahmatulahi wa barakatuh,
Death is a very difficult topic for all of us.
Even as adults, it is something that we often struggle with. Fortunately, as Muslim’s our beliefs can help to shape our experiences into a more positive one in our remembrance that our life is only temporary and we will all have to return to Allah at some point.
As a 3-years-old, she may not fully understand this concept, but without even talking about death as such you can begin to educate her on the concept in a way that you know she will understand.
Educate her on Allah as the creator and how we all have to go back to him and some point, and now it is time for her grandfather and you can pray together that he will go to Jannah and all the nice things he will see there.
As parents, naturally we want to protect our children from negative and painful emotions.
The Nature of Death
Death, however, is an inevitable part of life and something that we all have to face at some point or another and so protecting her from this might not necessarily be the most appropriate way forward. There are, however, numerous ways that you can make things easy for her.
Allow her to grieve. Allow her to cry. These are all natural responses which if she is not allowed to face now, may come back and cause her trouble later in life.
Likewise, if you need to cry, then you should not hide it too. This will teach her to hide her true emotions at times when she should really show them in order to get the support of others when she most needs it.
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Regarding the funeral, you could educate her about it and what will happen, and give her the choice of whether she wants to go. Let her be a part of the decision making.
The experience of death can be emotionally draining, so do also remember to do fun things with her too, allowing her to experience grief, but without overwhelmingly so.
After his death, talk together about him. Remember the happy times you had together, focusing on the positive rather than the sadness relating to his death. This will help to build up a reliance in her and promote the skills she can use to manage difficult experiences like this again in the future.
May Allah bring you ease during this difficult period.
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