“What is death?”
Avoid using euphemisms such as “Grandma has gone to sleep.” or “Grandma has gone away to a faraway place.” As calmly and gently as possible, explain that people stop moving, talking, eating etc. when they die and we do not get to see them anymore. If the child asks a specific question about her death or yours, reassure her by saying that you hope for a long, fulfilling life for both of you.
“Why does grandfather hate people from another religion?”
Do not scold your child for finding fault with a senior adult or rush to the defence of the adult. Instead of providing answers, ask questions instead. “Why do you think it is wrong to hate?” “How do you think this hate will affect your grandfather?” “Why do you think his views about people from another religion are wrong?” Your child will feel respected and get the space to sound out his thoughts and vent his feelings. A tween or teen (who is likely to ask such a question) will appreciate being listened to rather than lectured at or given an explanation. At the end of the conversation, you could reaffirm with your child that adults do make mistakes, in their judgements or perceptions.
While sensitive topics may leave you squirming and uncomfortable, do remember that in most situations, it is equally difficult for the child. So do retain focus on the child, and not your own feelings. Remember, these open conversations are the foundation for a healthy parent-child relationship. So shed your inhibitions, be natural and you will find that frank conversations are not that very difficult!