I recently came across a box of my Grandpa's old cameras. I had forgotten that he was into photography as well, so I put them in my china hutch to display. Emma noticed them a while back, and mentioned them again today.
Emma: Mommy, are you going to gather more old cameras?
Me: Do you mean am I going to collect cameras? No, sweetie, I have those because they belonged to my Grandpa, so they mean a lot to me. I have no interest in other cameras, I like those because they were Grandpa's and he took pictures with them.
Emma: Grandpa died.
Me: Yup, your Great-Grandpa is in heaven with Jesus.
Emma: So I can meet him someday?
Me: Yeah, when you go to heaven, you will meet him. Isn't that cool?
Emma: Why can't I go to heaven now for a visit, and then come back here?
(Can I just say, I love how her little mind works!)
Me: Well, it doesn't work that way. When you go to heaven, your body stays here and your soul goes to heaven.
Emma: (Obviously flabbergasted, hits her hand on the tale for emphasis, and cocks her head to one side. I love this kid!) WHAT?!?
Me: (I suddenly remembered something I read in a book once. I was not planning on having this conversation, but she needs to know how the world works, so I dove right in.) Here, let me show you. (I went and got out a gardening glove and put it on.) Your body is like this glove. Your soul- who you are as a person, what you think and believe- is like my hand inside this glove. Your soul controls your body. (I wiggled my fingers inside the glove.) But when you die (I removed the glove and laid it on the table) your body stays here, but your soul (I wiggled the fingers of my now un-gloved hand) lives forever and gets to go to heaven. You can't see your soul, just your body. So when people die, their body stays still (poked lifeless glove) because their soul has moved on. Understand?
Emma: Yeah! (Her eyes are shining, she is excited, she really gets it! Holy, cow, I just explained death to a five year old, and she gets it!)
Grant: (Pointing at the glove) May I please play with the body, please? (OK, maybe he doesn't get it...)