My daughter, a five year old, came in to the bedroom and told me, "Kibby died. I cried and cried." Kibby is a dolphin from the Dolphin Research Center. Kibby occupies some of my daughter's earliest memories. She loves him. Kibby died. Tears started seeping, but not from my daughter's eyes. From mine. My daughter patted my face and told me, "It's ok to cry, Momma. I asked, and Daddy said this is ok to cry about. I cried in the car." When she told her grandfather, she simply said, "He died because he was old. I will miss him."
It is amazing to see the way grief and personality interact. I'm a crier, sort of. When I read, when I get angry, when I feel stressed, I cry. But my daughter isn't like me--most of the time. Obviously, she's a five year old, so she gets her crying fits like most five year olds. But on most days, she's pragmatic. She became curious about death a few months ago. She wanted to know why, how, and when things die. After realizing that people die, she asked what we would do if Daddy died. I explained we would be sad, but she wanted to know "who would cook, and where would we live?"
When she was three, she asked for an Anatomy and Physiology cheat sheet. Sometimes we read it for a bed time story. She loves seeing the parts of her body and learning what they do. When her dad's car had a flat tire, she nearly jumped up and down in her excitement to see him change it.
After learning about Kibby's death, she was sad. She's wanted more snuggles this week, but she is dealing with her grief by talking about it and rationalizing it through her understanding of the natural world: e.g. when things get old, they die. It's amazing to me to watch her deal with issues that I still struggle with as well. It's amazing to see her personality and her personal processing.