What do you tell a 5 year old about death?
What do you tell a 7 year old about death?
You can understand their fear, but can you console them enough?
How do you make her accept the inevitable, and appreciate life for what it is?
How much of what she reads or sees can you censor?
And when your 7 year old starts talking about rebirth, and how she doesn’t want to be born an animal, how do you respond, and not burst out laughing?
The first time O was upset about ‘death’ and brought it up was when she was about 5. I thought I had handled it well… because she didn’t brood over it for long.
But yesterday a laughing, jolly little girl who was rolling around in bed with her baby sister, turned. in less than 5 minutes, to a weeping, sobbing bundle of nerves.
As I held her tight… she cried:
I don’t want to die. Ever.
**everybody will, but that’s not what you should think about now**
**but I knew whatever I say now wouldn’t help, so I just let her vent.**
I don’t want to be born as an animal.
**those Amar Chitra Kathas are going into storage!**
Amma, you think animals know what they are? I don’t want to be an animal, Amma. I don’t want to die.
What if a lion eats me?
**what if you are the lion kuttima?**
**That stopped her tears for a few seconds, as she thought about it**
I don’t want to be a lion. I don’t want to be ANY animal. I don’t want to die. I want to be with you.
**What happened? Did you read something or see something that upset you?**
It’s there everywhere. In Amar Chitra Kathas, Spiderman… Everywhere. Except TinTin and Pippi Longstocking.
**Ok don’t read these for a while. Read only TinTin and Pippi.**
I am happy in the morning, but at night I start thinking about this. It scares me.
**I held her close to me and asked her to think of happy things.**
Shall I say budham saranam? **because I wanted her to have a paranormal reference, I introduced Buddha to her when she was a baby. Buddha I like, because Buddhism borders on the agnostic.**
Shall I use ammamma’s Sai Baba vibuthi?
**Yes, anything that makes you happy.**
Ok. And shall I watch TinkerBell?
That’s the thing about prayer. Either you believe in it, or you don’t. I don’t, so I couldn’t provide that as a solution. But despite R & me, O does believe in it (and has only recently given up trying to convert me).
They can. These two things are not related you see.
For all my loving, prayer was not a solution for me.
It is for O; that and TinkerBell.
Anyway, it was heart-wrenching to see her sob like that. Even N stopped in her play and just watched her crazy, funny, entertaining big sister go off-character that way.
All that I could do was hug her. Hug her so tight, there wasn’t space between us for a silk thread to pass… so hard it made her slightly breathless… so tight it made me want to weep too… so close that I never wanted to let her go, because she is growing up just too fast. She is thinking about the next birth, when she still has so much living, loving, aching to do in this.
My niece’s paediatrician told my sister (agnostic like me, but less spiritual) that ‘god’ was a good parenting tool, that can be used everytime you were lost for an answer. My sister uses it effectively.
But I can’t. I just feel it’s hypocritical to use a concept on my children, that I don’t believe in or follow myself. However, I won’t stop them from using it, having picked it up from grandparents and aunts and books… As long as I am not compelled to be a party to it.
Now I am digressing. But pray *hmmph!* tell me, how would you handle a sobbing child, wrought with grief over DEATH? What can you say that’s not a LIE. Even if it’s not necessarily honest.