Apr 06, 2015 - 07:56 AM
I'm not a death expert, nor am I a psychologist. However, I think it is important to be honest with your daughter about a great many things regarding death and about her grandmother. Death is invariable and inevitable. We all must make peace with the knowledge that death is a part of life. I would recommend taking the role of guide and counselor and trusted advisor as opposed to shielding or protecting from the truth. You have the power now to guide the conversation and impression that death leaves and to be her shoulder of understanding.
With that in mind, I think it is also important to then be the voice of hope and joy in the situation. Grief is natural and should be expressed, but throughout the grieving process, take the time to tell your daughter about her grandmother. Let her know the feelings of sadness, anger, frustration and loneliness are OK to feel. Tell her about all the good times and the life your mom lived. Tell her about your emotions and help her with words for hers. Invite her to share - if not with words then with a journal. Most importantly, be repetitive about your assurances about the validity of her emotions and the beauty of your mother's life. In risk of sounding cliche, take some of the heartfelt lines and use them honestly. Her grandmother will always be a part of her in the memories she shared and she will not ever be forgotten so long as your daughter treasures her memory in her heart.
From my own experience, I think the worst things to do are to tell your daughter to "be strong" or to not let her see your emotions (especially the emotions of a father). Maybe you aren't lamenting or tearing out your hair in grief, but communicating that you feel a great deal of emotion will be (again, from my experience) a large part of her development.