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I miss you - Speaking about death to children

on Sat, 21/01/2012 - 21:44

This is a post that I have been planning to write for a long time, but when I sit down to work on it, I can’t find the right words. I ask myself why it’s so difficult to write about death? Probably because it’s a topic that I want to avoid...

During my childhood I got the thought that we turn into ghosts or zombie’s after death. [Michael Jackson’s Thriller didn’t do me any good]

So my innerchild was hiding in her darkest place when Chanel started to be interested in death. She is six now and is becoming more conscious about life every day. It’s like I see her waking up from her own world she was living in until now.


‎"Who are you?" asked the caterpillar 
"I hardly know!
I know who I was, but I've changed" said Butterfly


* This great picture I've found HERE.
 

Three concrete advices while talking about death to your child

1. Since I love to transfer my humble knowledge of life to my kid, I knew that I couldn’t go wrong talking about death as if I was talking about life itself

2. From the start I decided to be honest with her and answer all of her questions. Children think in a very literally way. When you say that somebody or something (a pet for example) passed away because they were sick, it might happen that children get in panic when they themselves are having a cold. Or explaining death as a long sleep may have the effect that the child doesn’t want to sleep anymore, terrified that death may overtake it.

3. I tried to keep my explanation of death very concrete and simple.
The use of visual material was of good added value, as are also religious and cultural traditions for some of you.
I choose ‘the little soul and the earth’ from Neal Donald Walsh. [at the end of the post you will find some suggestions for books]

our conversation:
Chanel: “I will never die”
Me: “You will indeed never die”!
"It is the body that will stop working, our heart stops beating. 

But you, your TRUE color, will never ever die.
We call this your SOUL."

[It may happen that children are more sensitive then others, some may have a special feeling with death or dreams.
"When I was a angel mommy, I looked down at you and choose you as my mother" - child from Caroline @ De Tout e De Rien
]

“The soul is as a Rainbow, connecting the new with the old”

What happens to a child when death actually occurs?
“Children feel the loss of loved ones just as intensely as adults do, this grief is often expressed in different ways: through play, art or even acting out”. [Grief is related to age, some research about that you can read HERE]
I know from experience that children, of all ages, are more flexibile to coop with difficult themes and moments then we adults may give them credit for. Children play. That is their biggest resource of healing themselves, there they feel safe to express themselves. We as adults only have to observe their behavior, that means slowing down, sit with them and watch. We will know by seeing them interact with their toys, drawings, pretend play, etc how their state of being is.

“You don’t have a soul. You are a soul. You have a body”

Bring children to funerals?
By simply involving, informing and observing your child you can enter it’s “silent” world of thoughts and emotions. There are different opinions about bringing children yes or no to a funeral. It’s not said that kids should stay away from these (emotional) moments. But as always the right things to do depends on the emotional state a child is in. What is happening in their heads or hearts, no research or expert (or blogger like me) can tell you. You know best as a parent!

A practical PLAY - Craft idea related to Death remembrance

Last week a dear person in our family  passed away. Chanel made the colorful Soulcreation, as shown in the video tutorial. It was like magical signs were popping up while creating it...have a look!

[I have used the cool VideoEmail product of TalkFusion. More info about their products, also for your own use, you'll find HERE]

....And how did you or would you speak to your child about Death?
Your comment is welcome under the blog or on my Facebook Fanpage.


Inspirational sources

Friends

Blogposts

Books

More research related 'Talking abour Death to your children'

 

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Comments

Angelique- Beautiful post and thanks for the link! I love the quotes you chose to highlight your points! When the time comes, I will be sure to use this as a resource for how to handle my child's questions and emotions...

Thank you for stopping by and leaving me your comment. 

I appreciated your input while writing the article and ideas also very much,

Love from Angelique

what a lovely post. This is a very difficult topic but one that children are very curious about. My almost 6 yr old is very worried about my death and as a result we frequently discuss this topic. As you said, it is like an awakening. They leave a certain innocence behind when they truly become aware of the world around them and the fact that we are not forever as we are today on this earth. Thank you for sharing this with us. I will be looking into the books and resources you mentioned to share with my daughter.

It was indeed not an easy topic to write and reflect up on and then to transmit it to my 6 year old. You have to be so carfeul with your words sometimes, 'cause they pick things up, even when you don't speak them out loud.

Let me know how your daughters will deal with 'Death', 

Love to you all from Angelique

That's a beautiful video of Chanel making her rainbow tribute! A lovely and thoughtful post Angelique, thank you for writing it. We talk a lot about death after the death of my Mum recently. My girls don't remember her which breaks my heart, but we try and keep her memory alive with stories about her life xx

Oh Anna, you must miss your mom , especially now...What a good thing that you trie to keep the memories alive of her.

Thinking of you and thanks for stopping by and leaving me a comment,

Angelique

What a beautiful post, Angelique! I love the way you honestly approach the subject of death and have such reassuring suggestions. The craft is lovely, too. I shared your post at the Living Montessori Now Facebook page and pinned it to my Stress-Free Kids Pinterest board at http://pinterest.com/debchitwood/stress-free-kids/

Thank you Deb! It was a very delicate and yet very real subject to write about. 

Love to you from Angelique

ps: thanks for the sharing, much appreciated

Oh Angelique this was just beautiful! I especially like the conversation between you and Chanel and that we do not ever die. I'm definitely going to use that. I also love the "you do not have a soul. you are a soul." Pinning this so I have it for when that conversation between me and my daughter comes.

Oh, I am happy that you liked the post Adrienne. I was also thanks to you that I took courgae to write the article, since we were talking about ti on the kid blogger network.

Thank you for stopping by,

Love to you from Angelique

This is such a wonderful and beautiful post. You did an amazing job and found all the right words. Thank you for sharing, Angelique.

You are lovely Joyce!

Thank you for always supporintg me and leaving me a comment,

Love from Angelique

My 5 year old daughter Ava, had only ever seen my Mum ill and frail and when she died in July last year Ava wanted to be involved in every thing, she insisted on choosing clothes for Mum to wear, very briefly saw her at the chapel of rest and really wanted to be at "Nanny's day". She knew everyone would be there including her cousins and I just couldn't leave her out. She drew pictures of Nanny in heaven and talked about what she was going to say to her. I know this has really helped her and she understands so much, she knows its ok to cry but also think of the good things about Nanny not just be sad. We look at pictures of my mum when she was well and when she was young looking lovely in her 1940's dresses just so Ava knows she wasn't always ill. I think it was the best thing to do and reading what you have written has reassured me. Thankyou xx

You have done so well Suzanne with your daughter! So couregous you were to listen and observe and keep on involving her. I Thank you very much for leaving me this reply, it means a lot to me.

Lovely greetings,

Angelique 

I loved reading this article, Angelique. And I specially liked that you are, most importantly, authentic in talking to children about death. I think that this is the attribute that opens the communication channel with them. There will be many ocassions in life when the subject comes up, and if you have open communication with your child, they will tell you about it, making it less uncertain when you have to talk to them. Thank you for the great insights!

It's like that Marco! Thank you for acknowledging my authenticity,

I am happy to know you,

Namasté

Angelique 

Beautiful post! We haven't had to have this conversation in much depth yet, but this was great to get me thinking about it.

Thank you for your comment on one of the most diffcult to write articles...it's been a challenge and no I am grateful with all great feedback.

Love to you

Angelique

We are a military family so unfortunately we have a lot of experiences with death. My daughter was 3 when I took her to her first military wake for a friend from my husbands unit. I explained the symbols, why we cried, why people shared in both laughter and in grief. I only offered answers to the questions she asked so as to not overwhelm her. When she asked about the memorial park and the flags we explained that each one celebrated a soldiers life-an honor and memory for each person who sacrificed their lives to protect another person on this planet. I personally have a phobia of death but did not want to project that to my daughter and have been very successful. She knows that everyone dies and its ok, we were made to be here for a short time but while we are here we should do our best to honor ourselves, because our memories in the hearts of others will live on forever.

Thank you for taking your time and write to me your personal experiences with your daughter. What a challenge that must have been for you?!

I love to read it that you are true to your little girl, great job!

Lovely greetings from,

Angelique

Thank you for posting this. You posted this when my best friend lost his father. Thank you.

Love and hugs to you my friend. Strength to your friend xxx

Depends on your religious and spiritual beliefs, but you can explain it as a hand in a glove. Your hand is your spirit, and the glove is the body. When a spirit is in a body, its like your hand in a glove. You can do all sorts of things, pick things up, clap, wave, etc. When you die, its like taking your hand out of the glove. The glove/body is empty, and laid in the ground, but the spirit/hand still lives on in another place. (afterlife, heaven, etc). I believe we're spiritual beings experiencing a temporary and physical existence, but we don't cease to exist when our spirit leaves our body. Like I said, you want to teach in line with your beliefs, but this analogy really works with mine.

Dear Cryssi,

Thank you for sharing this activity with me. I agree with you, it all depends on religious and spiritual beliefs, as long as that what youa re syaing is in line with your own core.

Thanks for stopping by and leaving me a message,

Angelique

A wonderful post on a subject that is very difficult to find any tips on. And a beautiful video. My son is 7 and my daughter 3 and I find us talking of death at somewhat odd times. I find if I talk about the whole life cycle from birth to death that helps my 7 year old know its natural and part of life. We also bicycle a ton and everytime they see a dead animal they ask about it, how and why, and I always answer them as truthfully as I can. We also talk about it when planting or playing in the garden.

A few years ago a friends pet passed on and my son was so sad and felt so bad for his friend-and when he tried to say how sorry he was his friend was very unconcerned. This more than the death really confused my son -that was a very interesting conversation too. That people and kids do not all react the same way too.

Hi Ts,

I understand what you say about your son's confusion. Some children are more sensitive then other's or have already developed some ideas and reflection on a subject as death. I hope he found his way with it and please tell him that I am very proud of him showing his empathy. What a wonderful capacity for a young child! Good job also from your side mommy :)

Thank you for your lovely comment, this was a difficult post to write but with all the lovely feedback I got it was well worth to make it....

Love, Angelique

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