Wednesday, July 2, 2008


So something triggered Owen to start really thinking about death. He was asking me this morning if he's going to die and if Mommy and Daddy are going to die. And at bedtime, he was still thinking about it, teary-eyed telling me he doesn't want to die. Have any of you dealt with these questions? What kind of approach do you take? I think it may be talking about his Grampy (Steve's dad) who died when Owen was 2 months old that triggered, or fueled, a lot of these thoughts. He's realizing that it's his daddy's daddy and he's concerned about losing his own daddy. (He was even concerned about something happening to his daddy on the plane home tonight....)

Another related issue is that my grandmother, who's just shy of 90, is not going to last much longer. I was kind of planning to take the whole family to the funeral when the time comes, but is this a bad idea, given the current emotional development of my children?

I'd love some other parents' opinions about this stuff or some suggestions for reading material that might help me.


Susan Z said...

I haven't dealt with this from a parent view yet, but I would approach it using books where someone dies. You have to do what you feel comfortable with. In my family I didn't attend a funeral or memorial service until I was in college (even though I had lost 3 grandparents by the time I was in 8th grade). My husband's family has a story of my brother-in-law leaving his papa smurf in a great grandfather's casket. If you are comfortable with whatever you decide you will pass that attitude on to your child.

Ann in NJ said...

I think you need to be honest and treat death as a part of life. "Yes, everyone will die, but I hope you live a long long time." And you can be honest and say that most people live until they're old but accidents can happen. When JC was 5, one of our cats died, and it was a good "introduction" to the reality of death. We used a book called "10 Good Things about Barney" (no, not the dinosaur, and I'm not postive of the title) about a boy whose cat dies. It actually helped a lot when my father died. Something that helped me was a sermon I heard about how in some cultures, the opposite of death is birth, because it's all part of life.
I think you do have to address it, and JC did go through a phase of being sort of obsessed (I think Rachel did too). A lot of it is the fear of what they can't predict or control, so explaining things actually helps. You'll have to follow his lead about what he really wants to know, and be reassuring - yes, planes can crash, but pilots have lots of training and they don't crash very often, it's news because it's unusual. He probably is mostly looking for reassurance about what would happen to HIM if you or Steve died. Don't dodge the subject or he will assume it's something terrible, and don't say things like "it's like falling asleep" because then he may be afraid to sleep. You can admit what we don't know (what happens to your soul?, etc.)
This is probably a phase but you can use it to de-mystify something that may be scary.