Discussion: Explaining stuff to your children

Whoa. Yesterday was one of the weirdest days in one of the strangest weeks in a long time. I've found it to be exhausting, and part of that was dealing with personal sadness (I have several friends who have lost or are in the process of losing loved ones this week). But a big part of it was figuring out how to explain to my kids what was going on.

I had a good conversation with my 4-year-old about the DC Metro crash a few days ago. He had a ton of questions, some of which I couldn't answer. Then last night the 7-year-old and I spent a lot of time talking about comas and plastic surgery and why adults shouldn't touch some of your body parts.

I know you all must have been having these same conversations. So I'm hoping we can open up a discussion about how you decide how open to be and how to approach talking to your kids about things. I know someone who didn't want her children to hear about the netro crash because she thought they were too young to understand, and that's a valid point of view. I feel like my kids are going to hear things, so I'd rather they hear the facts from me and have the chance to ask questions, which is also a valid POV.

So my question to you is; How do you approach talking to your kids about current events? What are the advantages and disadvantages of your approach? Don't forget to mention how old your children are, please.