Talk About Death

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Death is the elephant in the room nobody wants to talk about—especially if the conversation involves children. It’s even more difficult to discuss a gruesome, painful death such as Jesus’ crucifixion. Yet, to appreciate all Jesus did for us, we need to recognize His death on our behalf.


Does talking to children about Jesus’ death cause you to feel uncomfortable? Don’t allow your discomfort prevent you from sharing about His death and His victory. So how do we do that with young children?

We can explain the crucifixion to children without including many of the harsh details. Depending on the child’s age, it may be enough to say:

“Jesus loves us so much that He died on the Cross to take our punishment for all the bad things we think and the bad things we say and the bad things we do.”

Don’t be surprised if your child does not react as badly as you may have expected. Young children tend to view few things as permanent, including death.

Still, we need to give children hope the same way any adult hearing the salvation account needs hope. Tell about Jesus victory over death:

“Then something special happened. Jesus did what no one else could do. He did not stay dead! Because He is alive, we can be friends with God forever!”

Death may be the elephant in the room, but we still need to talk about it. By carefully choosing the right timing and age-appropriate vocabulary for the conversation, we can assist even young children to begin considering the extent of Jesus’ love for them.

A love that took Him to the Cross.

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About Ava Pennington

Ava Pennington is thoroughly enjoying her second career as an author, teacher, and speaker. She moved from New York to Florida, leaving a twenty-year corporate career as a Human Resources executive. But don’t call her retired! She now teaches a weekly, interdenominational Bible Study Fellowship (BSF) class of 300+ women from September through May. Of course, Ava writes. She has written for organizations such as Focus on the Family, Christianity Today, and Haven Ministries. She has also been published in 25 anthologies, including nineteen Chicken Soup for the Soul books. Her newest book, Daily Reflections on the Names of God: A Devotional, is published by Revell Books and endorsed by Kay Arthur, founder of Precepts International. Ava has also co-authored two children’s picture books, Do You Love Me More? and Will I See You Today? If you’re looking for a speaker, she delights in challenging audiences with relevant, enjoyable presentations. For more information, please visit


Talk About Death — 8 Comments

  1. Amen! Adults often forget children only need the most simple explanation. We make it worse and/or confusing when we try to “explain” hard subjects.

    Example: when my youngest was about 3, a woman in the church nursery was changing her son’s diaper. Mary told me, “Mommy! Miss Carol was changing Aaron’s diaper and where he pees is THIS long!” (She demonstrated with her hands.) I stifled a chuckle and said, “That’s because he’s a boy.” She said, “OH!” And that was that. Nothing more was needed. It was a true answer and all the information she needed at the time.

    I still use that example when I’m teaching a workshop about writing for children. Keep it simple. True, but simple.

  2. I totally agree. And I love Pam’s comment and illustration! If, when talking to children, we treat death as just another part of the life cycle, it becomes less daunting. I like to help kids see Jesus as a real-life superhero. He died for us! But even death couldn’t keep him down. He’s the ultimate Superhero!

  3. So true. I’ve wanted to write a Bible storybook about Jesus death and resurrection, and haven’t been able to get over that hurdle. I like my books to tell as much as possible about the Bible accounts, but this one is more sensitive to age-appropriateness than most. And so many people want to assume if a story book has pictures it is for younger children – not necessarily so.

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