On explaining death to the young.
I’m reprinting my comment on the post, because it’s what I want to say anyway:
I really appreciate your thoughts here. We had a similar discussion the other night (what is it with four-year-olds?), because Mikko’d heard about mummies and was worried about them. I said, “It’s all right; they’re just dead bodies wrapped in cloth. They can’t hurt you. They’re dead.” Which, duh, led into, “What’s dead?”
Now, we’d talked death before, because our cat died last year. But this was not concrete enough for him, because he keeps asking when she’ll be able to come back from the vet, what medicine we can give her to make her better, whether more sleep will help (hint: the euphemism “put to sleep” doesn’t mean much to a four-year-old).
This time, as I fumbled once more through the explanations, we both ended up in tears, and I didn’t know what to tell him. I fell back on the concept of heaven, even though I have no idea (anymore) what waits beyond. I hoped it would be comforting. It was not. “Can we go there and see God and then come back here?” Well…no. It’s hard for me to understand, and harder still to deal with. I’m not surprised it made my four-year-old have nightmares all that night. :(