I've been trying to sing the kid more folk songs, and he's asked for Oh My Darling. When I sing it he asks, Why is she gone for ever?
It's funny because I think that my impulse is to protect my kid from unhappy truths like the fact of death, which he can't really understand right now anyway. And I think it's my responsibility to protect him from a lot of things, as far as I can, but I don't think it's my responsibility to avoid talking about death.
First of all, Christianity makes it impossible--the cross, our central picture, is all about death (and, after that, resurrection). The kid asks sometimes why Jesus on the cross looks sad. And so I try to tell him.
Ash Wednesday is all about our mortality--for you are dust, and to dust you shall return.
I also think that folk songs teach us that the good, the bad, and the ugly should all be processed out loud and passed down. And I suspect that if we talk to our kids about it before they can really understand it, it won't be so taboo. And then we retell the stories again and again as they get older, understanding a little more each time.
But yes, he gets that Oh My Darling is sad and that being gone forever is uncomfortable.