Friday, April 08, 2011

Talking to Kids about Death

This is not a conversation I ever wanted to have with my kids.  I was hoping they'd all be 8 or 9 or older when death became real to them -- and we'd be able to communicate truth in a way they could understand.

But the hard reality is that death is just as much a part of our world as the sunrise and the sunset.  We are living in a creation that is broken and needs redemption.  Death and separation will one day be a distant memory, but for now, we have to make sense of it as best we can with our children.

Spring and Easter are great times to talk about life and death -- seasons and changes.  As they see the snow melt and the grass appear once more, you can use these visual, tangible elements to make connections.

But it's never easy, that's for sure.  Just this morning, on the way to school, I check out my baby boy Jonny in the mirror and he's blinking too fast, lips pouting in a way I'm all too familiar with.

"Jon Michael, what's wrong?"

(sniffing) "I'm really gonna miss you when you die, Mom."

(me falling apart inside) "Aw, buddy, you don't have to worry about that!  Mommy's not gonna die for a very long time!"  (please please please Jesus please please Jesus)

"But I'm gonna miss you and Daddy when you die..." (Oh help us all, he's wiping his eyes now....)

"Buddy, you listen now.  When someone dies, it just means you don't see them for awhile.  But since we both have Jesus in our hearts and we love Him so much, it means we'll be together FOREVER someday!!"

Sometimes being a mother is just impossible, isn't it?  You don't have the answers that make the tears stop; you don't have the magic words that make everything okay.

What matters is that Christ at the center, always the center.  He's writing my kids' life stories.  Not me.  When (not if) they go through dark tunnels of pain or confusion, He's there.  He will glorify Himself and He will redeem all that the enemy has meant for evil.  Amen and Amen!


Anonymous said...

I wish I had your gift of words. How touching and yet uplifting!

Erin said...

Will and I just recently had to go through this with our girls, too. Heart wrenching and hopeful. But, what is funny....I feel much better after having the conversation, knowing they will always have those times with them that they and I and they and Will were able to talk about eternity, in all its Truth, wonderful and hard all at the same time, together.

con said...

our neighbor died last summer and i had to tell anna about it. marlene (like dietrich) had cancer and we knew it was coming, so i tried to address misconceptions before it actually happened. ya know, like dead bugs weren't sleeping, they were dead, and the dead worms in the driveway weren't going to start crawling again when it rained. when anna was born, i promised her i would never lie to her as long as i lived, so yeah. i told her cemeteries were where we bury dead people's bodies way sooner than i'd ever planned to, but i also talked about the soul sooner than i would have otherwise. it was really interesting to watch her 3 1/2 year old processing speed. she expected me to tell her that mar had gotten better because that's what we'd been praying for. but when i said she died, anna sucked in her breath and gasped, "WHY?" her eyes welling up. it was horrible. and then it was gone. like nothing happened. seriously, all the stages of grief in five seconds or less.