Sunday, September 22, 2013

Lets talk about the D word...death

Well it has been a while since any of us has posted on our blog page. Today I felt the need to write.

I chose the topic of death...I know this is the hardest word for most to grasp and as humans we are always scared of the unknown, death is the biggest "unknown" circumstance that anyone has ever dealt with and it is extremely scary. So how do we explain death to our children? Is there a right way to do it?

As you all may already know I have a 3 year old son, going on 4 in November. My father had passed away when I was very young and he meant the world to me. When my son was born my nana gave me my dads teddy bear and I put that bear with a picture of my dad beside my sons bed.
As my son got older he asked who the man in the picture was and many evenings before bed I would tell him stories of his Grandad whom he is named after.
This summer my son grabbed the picture of his Grandad and asked me why he could not see Grandad or talk to him. That was a very tough question to answer especially to a 3 year old. I was concerned he would not understand if I used the word death and then trying to explain the word and what it meant may have been a bit complicated. So I told him that his Grandad was hurt in a car accident many years ago and sometimes when people get hurt badly enough they go up into the clouds and watch over their family and friends. I thought that was the best explanation I could give and my son totally got it. He wondered why he could not talk to Grandad and I explained that he can always talk to Grandad but that Grandad will not talk back because he can only listen. Its amazing how much my son understood that concept and was very ok with it.

There have been many occasions since my explanation that he was able to tell other people about his Grandad and where he was. Now I know some may not believe in the concept of heaven and that is ok, a different explanation would be required in those circumstances but as far as I can see, with my most recent experience it is to keep the explanation simple.

On Thursday evening our family dog was hit my a car and died a short time later. I had called my sons father to come pick him up immediately in the midst of it all and he came and took him back to his place for the entire weekend while I recovered from our tragic loss. On Friday my sons father and I were going to tell him about our dog and what had happened. My sons father wanted to tell him that our dog went to a farm but lying was not the way to go. My son has already had a simple explanation about what death was and I thought the truth was much better then a lie. It took some convincing but my sons father agreed and allowed me to tell our son the truth. That our doggy was hurt badly last night and that he went up into the clouds with Grandad. Now my son and this dog were best friends and I did not know how he would take it. He was surprisingly better then I was. When he came home for the first time after the fact I wondered if he would question where our puppy was but he did not. I thought it was strange so I asked him if he felt like mommy's house was different. He said yes that or puppy is no longer here, I asked him if he knew where she was and he replied "yes mama she was hurt and went into the clouds with Grandad and now she can see me every single day and everyone else" He said that he missed her a lot and was sad but he understood.

Death is a hard topic and explaining it to a child when you need to is very difficult. Every child is different and of course use your judgement on what you say and how but I feel that children are quite resiliant and they understand a lot more then we give them credit for.