Saturday, May 31, 2008

Kids Asking Existential Questions

Some of the best conversations with my children happen at bedtime. A couple of nights ago, I was putting the boys to bed and they were both sleeping together on the top bunk. My older son, Lil' Expert who tends to be a little morose started asking me questions about death and dying.

Last year, our beagle puppy drowned in our pool. My son asked, "Why didn't Scout (our other dog) jump in the pool and try to save Bandit? Why did he just bark?" My son then asked if I remembered my friend that was hit by a car? Around the same time as the accident with the dog, my friend Brenda from high school was hit and killed by a car. She had four children like me, and I was really saddened by her death. My son wanted to know why did she have to die?

In the past, Lil' Expert has worried about dying himself, or having one of his parents die. I have noticed that long before we realize it, children become aware of death. They see dead birds, insects, and animals lying by the road. They may see death at least once a day on television. They hear about it in fairy tales and act it out in their play. Death is a part of life, and children, at some level, are aware of it.

If we let children talk to us about death, we can give them needed information, prepare them for a crisis, and help them when they are upset. We can encourage their communication by showing interest in and respect for what they have to say. We can also make it easier for them to talk to us if we are open, honest, and comfortable with our own feelings. Not easy.

I tried to keep it brief, simple and explain in terms that he could understand. We talked a little about the life cycle, our faith, and making the most of life. The next day, I saw a book on the internet that looked like it might be helpful.  It tells the story of the life cycle of a dragonfly and explains death and dying in terms young children can understand. I am thinking about ordering a copy.

Anyway, after the kids were sleeping I thought about my old friend. I realized it has been almost a year exactly since Brenda died. Another friend wrote a post about  Brenda a few weeks back. 

We had not kept in touch in recent years, but I still really miss her. She was an amazing mother and an encouraging, outgoing person.  I think about her husband and four children. It makes me want to live in a present way and be grateful for each minute with my family and friends. I have the same questions as my son. Why did she have to die? I try to trust God that her family will be taken care of and come through this tragedy.

Here is a memorial video about Brenda: 

The loss of Brenda reminds me to keep being grateful and thankful!

1 comment:

Elle said...

Nice Tribute to Brenda! Death is a challenging subject with children. There are no easy answers.