One of the things I love most about reading other people’s blogs is that you get the opportunity to enter a whole new world. A completely different life, in another part of the planet, with a different point of view. I have a handful of blogs that I’ve been reading for years and one of them is Girl’s Gone Child. Rebecca isn’t wildly political or a baking savant – she is an intelligent, very hip Mom in the Los Angeles area who I happen to agree with on a lot of things. She is a little more ethereal in her approach to life than I probably am, but I find it refreshing. I love her little family and her little life and her closet full of clothes that I love on her but would never wear. One of the things I love about Rebecca (other than her poetic prose) is the amount of thought and consideration she gives to her parenting. Being a mother is a big, sometimes scary but always important job and too many people take it for granted and do it by default.
This most recent post by GGC got me thinking about death and what we tell our children about it. Death is as much a part of life as living and while I have always been sure I wouldn’t tell my kid some made up story about heaven and seeing their long-lost grandparents in the clouds, I would be lying if I said it was a conversation I am looking forward to. Reading Rebecca’s post however, made me feel a bit differently. Especially the part where she says that most people hold off talking about death to young people until they can understand it. I had never really thought how ridiculous that is. Nobody understands death. Why would kids be less capable than grown ups of wrestling with those very big ideas. If anything, they may have some very valuable insight – they haven’t learned yet to be afraid of death. To avoid thinking about it and dwelling on it until someone close to them dies and it is thrust into their life with fury. That’s no way to be introduced to death.
When it comes time to talk to my daughter about death, I want to treat it with the attention and respect it deserves. I don’t want to lie and I don’t want her to feel confused. She may feel afraid but at the very least, I want her to know that we can talk about it. That like other important subjects (sex, life, our bodies etc.) it is not off the table. I will tell her about heaven and what some people believe and I will tell her what I believe. Ultimately, the choice will be hers.
What conversations have you had with your children about death? What is your philosophy about death, dying and children?