Explaining Death to Children (Plus Notes on 9 Av)

Jewish cemeteryIn honor of the nine days of mourning leading up to the commemoration of the destruction of the Temple on 9 Av, which we observe this Sunday, I share this email from a reader.

A very close friend of ours died about a month ago and last week our rabbi’s adult son died.there has been talk of funerals and shiva and sadness and crying in our house.

My six year old son has heard some of these conversations. He has also helped to prepare meals for the shiva for both families and went with me to deliver the meal to our close friend(where he just sat on her lap and cuddled with her–which was what she really needed then)

he has started asking a lot of questions about heaven, G-d etc. Things like–how does old do you have to be to go to heaven? How does Hashem decide who goes to heaven? How do you get there? Is it fast? What do you eat there? Are the two people who died sitting next to each other? When can we see the people who died?

In any event–I have tried to explain the unexplainable as best as I can–but wanted to know what other people have said to their kids…..and are there any books (with a Jewish theme) out there for this age group.

Notes about the fast of 9 Av that begins Saturday evening:

If you are nursing or pregnant, please ask your rabbi about fasting. Many, if not most, nursing or pregnant women are being told not to fast this year, or to break the fast if they feel at all ill. This year the fast is postponed a day because of Shabbat. Don’t try to get through it if you are not feeling well–you don’t need to be strong at the expense of your baby.

Here are some tips about when the fast takes place on Saturday evening and Sunday.

And more on fasting while pregnant or nursing.

You may also enjoy:

Virtues of Virtual Relationships: Mourning and Social Media

Thoughts from the Shiva

Internet Dating in the Religious Zionist Community

image: anosmia


  1. The fact that we are ‘ gigulim’ has helped me explain why some one who has died at a young age , may just have completed his mission having spent a long life in a previous life time