For every parent, I think there are three hairy questions we have to face at some stage of our children’s lives: death, where babies come from, and religion. When Gavin first raised the question about death, I had been ill-equipped to deal with it. Since then, I’ve found an excellent book that talks about death and helps children understand it by Pat Thomas titled: “I Miss You: A First Look at Death“.
I have read it a few times to Gavin and it seems to have resolved his questions and issues about death because he hasn’t asked about it again since. He also seems to have come to terms with the idea that everyone eventually dies when we get old and that it isn’t something to be afraid of.
I thought we were successfully through this topic when we were talking about my grandfather in the car because we were on the way to his birthday dinner. We touched on the topic that Great Grandpa was really old and then Gavin pipes up with, “If Great Grandpa is really old, that means he’s going to die soon.”
Luckily he only said that in the car and to our own ears. Although we’d talked to him about life and death, we forgot to cover the etiquette about talking about death. In Chinese culture talking about someone old dying is very rude because of the superstition and belief surrounding the topic. Talking about someone dying is like wishing for them to die (almost). So it isn’t something you should say. We all know that people die, we just don’t talk about specific people dying unless they have already passed away.
What are some of your experiences talking about life and death with your child?