Wednesday, February 24

How do I tell my son about death?

I've spoken to both of you about death many times. And it's quite a straightforward thing for me kids. Yes you will feel sad and will shed tears but I hope not. I have had nothing but joy with you two. So when I have to leave, I want you to remember the fun and happy times we had. And you will need to be strong for mamma and make her happy. Make her think of the happy times. 
Death is the final adventure kids. I'm a Hindu so I don't have that many psychological hang ups as Christians or Muslims or Jews do. Their religious worldview is based upon the fact that their existence ends when they die. This author is an atheist and still thinks that his life finishes at death. Not mine. I will be going on to do more.  There's more lives in store for me. More fun to have. More chips to eat. More mountains to hike. And more books to read. And more places to go. And and and. 
So no worries about death. It's fun. Just a gate or door to another life kids. The greatest adventure begins again. 
It was good seeing both of you Kannu. :) she's a lovely girl. Very nice and quiet. I hope you had a good time with her. 
Btw, we have a great book at home. The book of questions. It's a very powerful book to use to learn about the other person in your life. There are no right answers. Or all answers are right. And those answers tell you much about you and her. It's fascinating to learn about yourself and her. Try it out :) 

How do I tell my son about death? – Cormac James – Aeon
(via Instapaper)

I have a good arsenal of strategies to dip into when my five-year-old son tells me: 'Dad, I don't want to have a bath' or 'Dad, I don't want to go to school'. In fact, it feels like the past few years have been a schooling in communications and sales strategy, for a particularly difficult customer. But when he told me recently: 'Dad, I don't want to die', I found I didn't have a pitch. I didn't even have anything I wanted to sell.
I wish I did. I'd love to give him an answer that would completely quieten his anxiety, because, like most parents, I feel towards my child a duty of not only physical but also psychological care. My problem is this: I'm a card-carrying atheist, and I feel a competing sense of duty towards the truth. Two things that seem not just mutually exclusive but vigorously, irrepressibly, tomandjerrily antagonistic. Care versus Cruelty. Comfort versus Fact. Child versus Death.
I try to get him to talk, to see what exactly he thinks dying is, all the better to hear what he's frightened of, and to see if some sly fudge might be made that neither denies the problem nor sells him a lie. Sensitive plant, he shrinks at the slightest prod, and won't – or can't – voice anything but vague apprehension. The mere idea is a place he doesn't want to go. The one revealing hint comes in his off-hand question: 'When you're dead, can you still imagine things, like for dreaming?' 'Dead' for him seems to be Little Red Riding Hood in the wolf's belly, or Snow White in her glass coffin waiting to wake – not dead dead, just less alive than he is now, on account of something nasty. That's the worst his imagination can come up with, apparently, and it's an idea I'm inclined to let him play with, at least until I decide how best it ought to be corrected, if at all.
I consult friends – two trenches over, with kids of their own – to see what line they've sold about death, and how that went down. In every home, at every bedside, the children seem to have been told the same story: 'it' is something that will happen in a long, long time, in a strange land, far, far away. (I particularly liked my friend T's line, telling his son that it's not actually him, the little boy, who's going to die, but a very wrinkly, crotchety old man with the same name.)

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