The death of a grandparent can be especially difficult for a young child. But there are ways that you can help the child cope.
For example, you can ask the child to draw some pictures of her and her grandfather together and then tell you about the pictures. Or you can suggest that the child draw a picture of the grandparent in heaven. If the picture comes out scary, ask the child to draw another one in which the grandparent is having fun, doing what he or she always loved to do.
The reality is that young children often find it hard to verbalize what they are feeling. By drawing, they can often express more of what’s in their hearts. Drawing (or other artwork) connects to the emotional self more readily than do words. (This is often true for adults as well.)
Another idea is to help the grandchild send a “balloon message” to her grandparent. Allow the child to pick out a helium balloon in his or her favorite color. Then, help the child write a note to the grandparent with a Sharpie on the outside of the balloon. Then, send the balloon skyward.
Still another way to help a child is to start a memory box or scrapbook to collect and cherish her favorite memories of the grandparent. As you are putting together the scrapbook, talk about the grandparent. Telling stories is one of the greatest paths to healing.