For months now, somehow, Monte has been asking a lot of questions about death. We haven’t (touch wood, touch wood) had a death in the family, or of a pet or anything close to us that has prompted the questions. It has been tricky to navigate.
I am of the opinion that there is no need to sugar-coat this fact of… life, but still, it is fraught with difficulty.
I lay with him the other night waiting for him to drift off and he asks “Mum, am I going to die?”
I muster up ultra casual tones “Oh yeah, you’ll die – everyone does” I reply. “No big deal, it is just what happens, animals, plants, people – we all die”
“But I don’t want to die!” he says, fretting.
“Will you make me come alive again Mum, will you?”
“No sweetie, once you die I can’t make you come alive again”
“But I don’t want to die – Mum, don’t let me die!”
Time to change topic? What do I do?!
“I’ll only die when I’m really, really old – won’t I Mum?”
“I don’t know” I reply “Most people die when they are old , but not all”
I conjur up my best explanation of my truth concerning life and death.
“When we die, it is just our body that dies – the person you can see is no longer here, but love never ever dies.”
“So only my bones will die? Nothing else, not my eyes”
“No, all our body goes – but in our bodies is our soul – who we are — and that is full of love – and no matter what you do – love will not die.”
I talk to him about my Great Aunty Rose and my Pop and how they died. I tell him I think of them from time to time and on some occasions get the feeling they are around. Pop has helped me through many anxious times, keeping me calm in panicked situations. I couldn’t see him, but I could hear him in my mind and in my heart.
I explain to him that sometimes we can be visited in our dreams by people after they die. Just because we can’t see them anymore – doesn’t mean they aren’t all around us, watching over us; loving us.
Sometimes they appear to us in other forms – like the butterfly that always seems to be at our front step whenever we are together.
It is a fact of life, but certainly a hairy topic to navigate with your child. A child you’d do anything to protect.
No-one wants to hear their beautiful child pleading with them “Mum , you’ll make me stay alive won’t you? Won’t you!”
How about you, have you ever had a discussion about death with your child / a child? How did you handle it?
ps – isn’t that photo of Monte the most beautiful?