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An Existential Coversation with a 4 Year Old about God, Jesus and the Care Bears

by Deborah Cruz

This morning on our drive to preschool, Gabi began asking me her daily quota of questions about death, heaven and God and/or Jesus.  I’m not joking this kid is suddenly obsessed with death and what happens in the after life. Or rather, what happens to people who die. She’s four and shouldn’t be asking these questions, or maybe she should. I just wish she didn’t even have death on her radar yet. I never thought I’d be contemplating how to explain death to children at this age.

It’s my own fault. In July, my estranged Grandmother died. But in the weeks before she died, my presence was requested by her. I hadn’t seen her in about 20 years in any real capacity, save for the 5 minutes she had stopped by baby shower and disappeared just as quickly six years ago. I hadn’t really known her and she had never met either of my girls but I hated to deny a dying woman her last wish.

I decided that I needed to tell the girls about this woman if they were going to meet her. I told them that my grandmother was sick and very old. I was trying to prep them for meeting a woman on her death bed. Of course, my Gabs would ask daily if we were going to see the “sick oldie.” You know how four-year-olds are, they tend to get stuck on repeat.

We never made it to Ohio to say goodbye. After she died, my girls were still asking what happened to the sick oldie. I told them that she had went to God and Abbi has been preoccupied with people dying and what happens to them once they die ever since.


God, Jesus,Care Bears, grandma

Gabi: Mommy, is Jesus dead?

Me: Well, Abbi his body died but his soul went to heaven to be with God.

Gabi: Who’s God? Is that him Daddy?

Me: Yes, that is his father.

Gabs: Mom, is Jesus with the sick oldie?

Me: Yes, Abbi. My grandma is in heaven with Jesus.

Gabi: Mommy, how is Jesus in heaven if he is dead?

Me: His body is dead, his soul is in heaven.

Gabs: Mommy, what’s a soul?

Me: It’s what’s inside all of us. It’s what makes us special.

Gabi: Mommy?

Me:Yes, honey.

*Seriously, how long is this ride between schools. This was the longest mile and a half of my life.

God Help me explain death in a way a little brain can digest it.

Gabi: Mommy, do you think God and Jesus are playing with the Care Bears and making the sick oldie feel better?

Me: The Care Bears?

Gabs: Yes, Mommy because  you know what ? The Care Bears live in the clouds just like God and Jesus.

Me: Maybe, honey.

Gabi: Mommy, you know what? Th sick oldie is happy because she is with Jesus, God and the Care Bears. Me know it! Okay, Mommy?

I didn’t get to say goodbye but I’d like to think she is in heaven with God, Jesus and the Care Bears having a good time frolicking above us all and keeping an eye on us.

God, Jesus and the Care Bears this is how you explain death to children.

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JDaniel4's Mom 2011/09/12 - 3:16 pm

I love how she really thought this through. What wonderful questions.

Alex | Perfecting Dad 2011/09/12 - 4:03 pm

I remember I used to cry myself to sleep as I tried to imagine what it was like to be dead. Just black and quiet. Forever. I was probably around the 5 or 6 year old mark then.

Krysta MacGray 2011/09/12 - 4:17 pm

This is priceless. You did a great job explaining! I know this is a sad story but the “sick oldie” makes me chuckle. Kids are so cute.

Mrs. MidAtlantic 2011/09/13 - 9:27 am

There had better be Care Bears in heaven! I have been looking forward to meeting those angels of cheer since I was TWO and swore I saw them sliding down rainbows!

Jess 2011/09/13 - 9:59 am

Discussing heaven and sick and growing old is so hard. Ava of course knows about it because of my mom. But it’s hard not to scare them because I don’t want her to be preoccupied that I will get sick or old and not be around. She’s brought it up once and it was heartbreaking. But they are so so smart and so sweet. I love that the Care Bears are up there 🙂

Hopes@Staying Afloat! 2011/09/13 - 6:30 pm

I had to go through this three years ago when our oldest was five because we sadly had to put our dog down. It’s been three years and he still brings it up from time to time. We just keep talking about it.

I love the idea of the Care Bears though. That is so sweet!

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