Maybe because my daughter is a Halloween baby. I don’t know. She is very pre-occupied with questions about death, zombies, vampires and the sorts. I’ve always encouraged her to develop her curiosity. Faced with her challenging questions about what lies beyond, I found myself wondering whether her inquiries are not too much of a morbid nature. Still, believing no question should go unanswered, I tap into my feelings, my memories and my learnings over the years to bring her simple to grasp lines of thought.
Explaining shortness of life
For a young child life seems endless. Their own mortality is something uncomprehensible. Also the relativity of time is hard to explain. The best shot I had at explaining the shortness of time is by asking her to compare 1 year in her life to 1 year in my life. “But mama, it’s the same !” she exclaimed. I went on to demonstrate that for her 1 year is long because it represents 1/8th of her entire lifespan. While for me 1 year is no more than 1/40th part of my life. Thus my slice of pizza is much smaller. She understands pizza.
The shortness of life is to be celebrated : it reminds us to live. I motivate my children to embrace the present moment, to view life as an adventure. To learn to enjoy the present moment. Actually I enjoy sharing these discussions with my children. There is no time like to present to hear their suprising point of view.
Talking about funerals and burial rituals
This question popped up when driving past an undertaker and my daughter commented on the beautiful flowers and could we go in. No ! She of course wanted to know why the answer was such a fierce “no”.
Complex. Such questions are personal and intimate. I had to make sure I explained all options from traditional burying under ground in a coffin – and my personal beliefs about rotting away in the ground; to other ideas of cremation – children don’t quite grasp the beauty of going up in smoke, even if assured this only happens when you’re truly dead. I continued on the more romantic gesture of scattering the ashes in the sea or even better, that I would actually like to be potted in a garden with a tree bulb. The living urn website has some beautiful examples of this very tangible form of reincarnation.
My daughter’s take-away on this topic was that mama wanted to be a tree. To be re-visited at a later date.
Keep the communication lines open
Children need a lot of reassurance that they are safe and loved. I find it important that my kids feel that they can discuss any topic openly with me. Always encouraging them to maintain their activities and interests and revisit questions regularly.