Kids can sometimes be more thoughtful and mature than you make them out to be. I was planning to inform Caitlin about her great grandma's death only tomorrow i.e. one day before we attend the funeral on Friday. I decided on the one-day lead time because I wanted her to be prepared mentally for the funeral but didn't want too much time ahead in case it would get her down or distract her from her daily routine.
The opportunity, however, presented itself earlier. This afternoon she voiced some plans of hers for Friday. As I did not want to give her the false idea that she could do what she wanted on Friday, I decided to break the news then.
She took it well. She knows what dying means in general as she has experienced the loss of some pet fishes, seen death of animals, people and funerals on TV. She's also experienced us leaving her with other family members to attend funerals.
She teared a little with a sad expression on her face and we hugged. I explained to her simply what death means (see here, here and here) and also gave her a general idea what a funeral is like. I hope it's enough to prepare her for Friday as this is the first funeral she will be experiencing.
She has several 'scrapbooks', freebie spiral notebooks we've acquired somehow that she has claimed as hers. She draws and writes in them whenever she feels like it. Most times, they are pictures of people, animals, the sea, house and garden, patterns, and very often, 'I "heart" you' messages for Eugene and me.
After the short cuddle, she picked up a pencil and started 'working' on her current fave scrapbook. And this is what she produced.
'Por Tai' means great grandma in Hakka, our Chinese dialect.
She then proceeded to tear it out of the notebook so I asked her why. She replied, "So that I can put it on the 'box' where they keep Por Tai's body."
Hmm, how thoughtful.... I then told her that the 'box' is called a casket or coffin. She then switched to 'normal' mode and we went to Mandarin class.
Por Tai, may you rest in peace.