Kat Armstrong: Celebritease


Using Pop Culture To Find Teachable Moments About Loss

Have you ever lost a close family member? How did you explain it to your kids?


So, have you missed me? Don't know if you've noticed but I've been a bit absent as of late, and for that I apologize. My beloved mother in law, Leah, passed away suddenly after a very short illness, and our family has been sent reeling. My kids have neither of their grandmothers thanks to cancer, and at such a young age, we're particularly devastated. Life goes on, especially when you have small kids.

But, sadly, Henry is confused and angry and so I'm looking for a teachable moment we can share. 

We've already explained to our three-year-old that Nana has died, which means she isn't coming back. Someone, against our wishes, told him she was now "nana angel," which, while lovely in sentiment isn't something we subscribe to around these parts, so Matt and I are having a hard time explaining what that means. And of course, because I'm a media hound, I'm starting to wonder if showing him a movie which has death handled in a good way might help. He's heard about death before (the death of my mother and our dog have all happened in his short life), but he still doesn't really understand where Nana has gone. 

I know there are loads of movies that handle death in really easy-to-understand ways for kids, but which is most age appropriate? I'm thinking Disney-Pixar's Up might be the best one because the death happens in vingette at the beginning of the film, but there's also Bambi, The Fox and The Hound, and even Charlotte's Web. I want to be able to watch something with him and answer any questions during or after in the hopes that he understands what's happened. 

Have you ever lost a close family member and what did you do to explain it to your kids?

Would you like to see more by Kat? Check out Has Your Taste in Pop Culture Changed? or How To Stop Being A Pop Culture Crumudgeon.