My niece has recently lost her husband to Cancer. They have a 3 year old daughter who adored her Daddy. She has been told that her Daddy died and is now an angel that watches over her. It has only been a week and a half and this poor little girl wants to go see her Daddy at the hospital. How much do they really understand at this age and what should she be told?
They don't really understand at this age. Remember they have a hard time knowing the difference between reality and fantasy and their sense of time is drastically different than an adults. There are wonderful grief groups for children nowadays. There are also great toddler books on sensitive subjects like when a parent dies. I strongly suggest doing both of these. Also, be patient. I understand the death of a parent is something a child may struggle with their entire life.
M Kay Keller