I have had to speak to my students about death several times but when it came to war it was very difficult for me. September 11 was one of the hardest days in my teaching career. While many of my students did not know what had happened, several of them saw it on television and word got around quick. I explained to them that it is very sad, but some people decided that they have different ideas on how Americans should behave and made the choice to hurt us.
Whatever you say, don’t give too much information and be honest. Children at this age are usually satisfied with a simple answer. You can tell him that the president feels that we need to have a war to keep us safe and that his Tio is going so that he can help. Do your best not to show any anxiety or he will pick up on it. If he is feeling nervous, scared, or anxious, empathize with him.
Help you cousin to keep in contact with his Tio as much as possible. They can write letters, send email, and speak on the phone whenever possible. If you can, have your husband read several stories and put them on tape before he leaves. He will enjoy listening to them (and so will you)!
There are several good children's books that talk about death. Lifetimes-Bryan Mellonie, I Miss You-Pat Thomas, I’ll Always Love You-Hans Wihelm are some good ones. They are great books that help young children understand about loss.