When Kids Ask About Death

August 28, 2009
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image I found this article, written by a mother about her first experiences in discussing death with her children, on the blog Things That Bang. Death is a often a topic that gets avoided as we grow up, but it should be a topic that is an open dialogue. Begin article: How do we talk about death to our kids? While walking through the cemetery in Ooty my four year old and I had a conversation about death. Just like we talked about birds, bees and the weeds that grew gently around the marble slabs, under which rested the bones of those long gone I spoke about the time when we all are laid to rest.

Her small little hand rested in mine as we walked down the worn out steps. The sun was resting and the cold wind gently blew her mousy hair in her eyes. Gently she told me she was going to die there and I replied that I didn’t think so. I told her that she would probably be way older than me before she died.

She accepted with a nod and asked if she was going to die somewhere else and I answered truthfully that I had no idea when and where she would die but probably not here.

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We walked out of that sad little place and that was the end of our conversation till I spoke to my mom and my daughter happily related to her grandmom that she had visited an old cemetery.

Today, while watching the news my 7 year old son pointed out there there had been more swine flu deaths, one in Delhi and one in Bangalore. He opened up his science encyclopaedia looking for H1N1. Obviously, it had no information on it yet, so we had a conversation about the flu and again I found myself talking about death in a matter of fact manner.

I told him if diagnosed at the right time, most people get well but then sometimes people aren’t that lucky. Sometimes death happens. He looked at me and nodded, put his book back in his cupboard and that was the end of the conversation.

These are harsh realities that we cannot deny.

I know it can hit me or my loved ones, my friends, my neighbours or my entire world any time. We live on borrowed time or in a dream when all that was no longer exists except for the present moment that we live in and that too dies and another ticks in.

Death is a greater teacher than life for death makes most of us love life.

In my daughter’s class there was a child who had swine flu. The school shut down for fumigation and Monday classes will resume. Our kids will return to school. Death is a fear every parent leaves unvoiced in their hearts. A reality given in this uncertain world.

At the cemetery, I picked my daughter up and kissed her soft cold cheeks and told her she would see me with white hair and bent over and that death would have to wait for us a long time.

A hopeful wish, my heart whispered, knowing death was non negotiable. My kids would also know this reality some time in the near future and there is no way of sugar coating death or skirting around it.

Like all things, it needs to be talked about when kids ask questions.

Article from the blog Things That Bang

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