Children who ask this question may actually be wondering whether it hurts to +be dead,+ so you should start by explaining the body concepts discussed in our section, ‘Explaining Death To Children,’ and talk about how people no longer feel pain after they die. As for the process of dying itself, most people slip away rather peacefully, feeling no pain in the process.
Even in cases where a loved one suffered a traumatic death such as a car accident or violence, there are a couple reassurances you can offer about the process of dying:
1) Often times in traumatic deaths the person it knocked unconscious immediately and therefore doesn’t feel a thing. It’s quick and painless.
2) If you talk to those who have had near-death experiences and survived, most describe it as an extremely peaceful and painless process. So while there certainly may have been pain after the injury, the process of actually dying seems to be rather painless.
For example, I remember hearing one woman describe her experiences after being viciously attacked by a cougar. It left her face torn nearly all the way off, and significant injuries to her neck and torso. Yet after the initial shock, she said that oddly enough, she felt no pain and was suddenly drained of any sense of anger. She described feeling a euphoric sense of love and oneness with the universe.
Others who have experienced life-threatening traumas have described a similar experience. Pain is a utility signal, designed to alert us of injury. Once it reaches a certain threshold, it seems to shut off, having little practical use for that signal. So you and your kids cam take solace in the fact that even if someone suffered an extreme injury, even though they certainly would have felt pain after it happened, their last moments before they left this world were almost certainly peaceful and pain-free.