How Do You Talk to a Child About Death?

With apologies for the downer of a topic, but . . .

A married couple of our acquaintance will soon attend a memorial service for a woman who recently passed away, and of whom their young daughter was quite fond. They have not yet told their daughter of the woman’s death as they are at a loss as to how to proceed with such a discussion. I told them I would put the matter out for consideration among the Ricochetti, where much wisdom can reliably be found.

Their daughter is three years old, and this will be her first experience with the death of anyone she knows. What have you told your own children under these circumstances, and what questions were you met with? Your thoughts on this very important question will be much appreciated by all concerned.