It has been months since my father-in-law has passed away but we are still trying to deal with it in our own ways. Our garage is still filled with his things, his car is still in our driveway, we own his cat, and the kids continue to talk about him as if he is still here. We are asked questions such as "what is Grandpa driving if his car is here?" and my oldest always tells everyone "Grandpa lost his cat, so we are going to keep him here a while." It's hard for us to answer and respond to the things our kids say. They are only 4, 3, and 1 so their understanding of things is not like how we understand death.
We sat down the kids and told them about their Grandpa dying the morning of the funeral. We thought long and hard about what we wanted to tell them and how we wanted them to understand death. Our 4 year old had already understood that Grandpa had been sick and weak for awhile. (He had stage 4 esophageal cancer). We told the kids that Grandpa had been tired and his body stopped working, so Grandpa went to be with the Lord in Heaven. We got the questions like "Where is Heaven?" and "Can Grandpa be fixed?". The children were told all about Heaven- that it is a beautiful, happy place in the sky above. We can't visit there, and Grandpa won't be able to visit us again, but that Grandpa was watching us from above. Grandpa will always be alive in our hearts when we think of him. My oldest said to us, "I will leave my stars (Twilight Turtle) on at night for Grandpa since he is tired. I don't want him to be afraid." That made us all cry. The sweetness and caring of the young.
The younger two children weren't affected by the funeral. They ran around and played quietly at the funeral. My oldest started crying and became afraid at the funeral. He told me that wanted to go home and didn't want to hear it (stories about his Grandpa and how everyone missed him). It was hard knowing he was so affected by the funeral and had more of an understanding of what was going on than I thought he would. I did all I could do for him, which was standing away from the funeral and holding him while singing in his ear. Eventually, he relaxed and played with his brother, sister, and cousin.
We still have to explain from time to time that Grandpa is still in Heaven, and he still won't be able to come visit us. Small children do not understand the finality of it all. We, also, tell them that Grandpa wants us to be happy and laugh and have a good time. He doesn't want us to be sad and not go on.