How to explain death to a 3 year old

My 3 year old keeps asking ‘is Nana better yet?’ My mum passed away in January and I explained to my 7 year old and 3 year old that she was poorly and died, which my 7 year old seems to of accepted but my 3 year old doesn’t understand.

I just wondered if anyone had a way to explain it better to him. I know he is young but he gets upset every time I say shes not better and she has died. I have been straight with my children from the start as that is what the hospital staff told me to do.

Any advice would be helpful.

Thank you x

Maybe you could say that she is an angel now and name a star after her. When your son asks where she is you point to the star saying Nanny Angel is up there now. She watches over us because she was poorly and died as her body doesn’t work anymore. So she now lives among the stars and we can’t see her now because she died. Each night go out point to the stars to say goodnight. Do it regularly so that he understand she no longer lives on earth. God this is hard isn’t it. I’m so sorry for your loss. I lost mum 9 months ago.


Water bugs and dragon flies is a book that has been recommended for young children. My advice might not be the correct way to do it.


Hello Tigger,
I am sorry that you are going through such a sad time, there is a lovely book called “Water bugs and Dragonflies” which explains death to young children it is by Doris Stickney. It costs about £4.
I obtained my copy from Eden Press, it is just one of the “Looking Up” series. there are quite a few books of this nature in that series.
It can be obtained from Amazon UK too. It is a very short book,
I hope that this helps, take care,


I would say something similar to what Jooles has said. That Nana has become and angle up there in the sky, because they need to make room for new babies being born.


Have the same issue with my 2 year old granddaughter keeps asking if grandad Mick will be at my house I think I made the mistake by saying granddad is at work I certainly confused her 2 months on and when I tell her nana going to work she getting upset I think she now thinks I’m not coming back I will have to say now his an angel is sky or something xx

Winston’s wish is a good web site that has a section for children to help cope with grief in a child freindly way

I take a look x

Kim unfortunately you do have to be straight with kids. Even though it feels abnormal and less kinder. You need to say they have died. That they won’t be coming back. Refrain from saying they have gone to sleep as they will think going to sleep also means they won’t come back. Sorry hope I don’t sound patronising. Just straightforward honest words with kids. Even though it feels uncomfortable and cruel. It’s the only way they understand. X

Thank you your not patronising I said the wrong things to my granddaughter I know I have to tell her
Thank you x

It’s a natural instinct to protect them. So you tell them anything to not hurt them because you love them. I only know because I work with young children. Otherwise I wouldn’t have a clue. :heart_eyes:

The book which has been mentioned is very, very good. I have a copy. It’s a lovely story. There is a bit at the back for parents too. It’s well worth buying. I hadn’t got children to explain death to but I bought it anyway, for myself. xx

Thanks I will look to purchase the book x

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