“Look to the stars, darling”, is what I tell my children about death. “Look to the stars. That’s where you’ll find me”.
Lately it’s become apparent that sooner rather than later they will know death and so I have begun gently preparing them for the inevitable. I get all the good jobs but then it is my job so I shouldn’t complain.
It’s a tricky conversation, filled with lots of charming, childlike questions.
I don’t want to frighten my kids or fill their days with sorrow but I also think that children should be prepared for death. It will happen during their life, and, while I hope they never lose anybody who is instrumental in their childhood, you never know and so we’ve been having tentative conversations about what it means for someone to die and how it might feel.
The emphasis of these conversations has been emotions and how it is important to talk them over with someone you trust, whilst being considerate of those around you. That part isn’t automatic with children, they don’t necessarily have the required filter to spares someone’s feelings in times of great pain, so we’ve had to talk about being tactful around those who are grieving, especially taking great care with our words.
These conversations are never easy but I do think they are necessary and must be handled with great care. We balance these talks out with a positive activity such as planting something we can watch grow, new life is always the best counter to death.
Today we had a little chat (something we are doing daily as the kids are worried for our neighbour) and then made pictures for our friend because we wanted to do something to brighten her day a little bit. The pictures were cheerful and full of love and the perfect antidote to our chat. I know they will put a smile on a weary face.
Do you talk about death with your children? How do you approach it? Books, artwork, role play. What is the best way to tackle this sensitive topic without it being detrimental to your child?