Talking To Kids About Death: Lessons From Big Bird

With the recent tragedy in Connecticut, many of us are talking to our kids about death.

Discussing the loss of a loved one is hard for most adults — so how do we handle this tough topic with our kids?

I’m reminded of an old Sesame Street episode, when Big Bird grapples with the death of Mr. Hooper.

When actor Will Lee died, they decided to write his character’s death into the show. And in classic Sesame Street style, they used the opportunity to teach children about death.

In this YouTube clip, Big Bird has some heartbreaking questions on the whereabouts of Mr. Hooper. And in their honest and straight-forward answers, the cast responds with the truth.

Visibly broken up over the loss of Mr. Hooper, the adults respond to Big Bird with honest answers such as, “He’s dead,” and “He’s not coming back.”

They go on to say that they’re all better for having known him and they will always hold onto their memories. Stating that death happens “just because,” they all admitted to being “sad” and that they will miss him.

Noticeably missing are terms such as “passed away” and “heaven” and “in a better place.”

While this approach might seem cold and heartless, I’ve yet to see a more empowering approach in explaining death to children.

Do you like this straight-forward approach in explaining death to children?  

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