So my kids are all asking a lot of questions about death these days.
We explained to them that the baby we knew had died. My son had already been told, as it was a teacher at their school, and the baby brother of a friend of his. So we talked, and left the discussion open, as we always do with difficult topics.
This morning, randomly, while he was eating snack, the littlest one asks me, "Why does the baby go to the doctor if he's already dead?" I realized that I had left a huge gap in my explanation. I had to explain that the baby wasn't going to a doctor to get well, that there wasn't a doctor that could do that, but that this was a special kind of doctor that would tell the baby's mommy and daddy what happened to him, why he died.
My children read the comics every day, and apparently this is deal-with-death-week in the comics as well. Not funny. The kids are worried about the turtle in Baby Blues. The middle one asked, after she read Funky Winkerbean, "What does, 'she's gone' mean?" And fortunately they've not grasped really what's happening in For Better or Worse. (And Mom, I know you've been on vacation, so sorry I've just spoiled all your favorite comics)
So the next question from the kids was, "Is your heart still there when you're dead?" Oh, yes, it's still there - your whole body is, it just doesn't work. Your heart doesn't say, "thump thump" so the blood's not pumping through your body.
I don't know the question that will come next. It helps, though, talking about it with them. It helps me to answer those questions in my head and to talk through the emotions of death. And to watch all three of them deal with it so differently, through their personalities and ages.