Saturday, March 6, 2010

When I turn 100, I'm going to keel over and die

When the twins were three, dear Hubby's grandfather died.  He was someone they saw a lot and a great part of all of our lives.  His death inspired questions of life and death over the next year as they grew and were able to understand more.

They asked why, and I answered truthfully - he was very old, and very sick.  But to a young child, old is being 10, 30- is ancient.  Somehow, I had put fear into them, unknowingly, that since Mommy was ancient, she was going to die soon.  I didn't know how to calm their fears.  You don't want your children to walk around always fearful, but you want them to understand the cycle of life.

So, I told them that old is 100, not 30.

Somehow that morphed into, when you turn 100 - you keel over.

The Movie, Kung Fu Panda, just helped this theory along.  When Master Oogway, the turtle dies, it was his time, the twins believe it was because he turned 100 - thus making it his time.

Maybe it's not the best explanation, maybe I went about it the wrong way.  As they've grown, they understand that death sometimes happens to younger people.  They understand guns kill people, that people can get very sick and die, but for the most part we are all going to lead long lives.  And that is the goal right?

What do you tell your children when they ask about death?

Some people are so afraid to die that they never begin to live. ~Henry Van Dyke.


  1. Thankfully my children haven't had to deal with too many deaths except for my fathers. They handled it very well. We were with him in the end and I think that helped take the scary factor out. Stopped by from SITS.

  2. Well, my kids are almost grown, but I've always pretty much stuck with the truth. That's always been my policy, and it's worked, so far! SITS sent me by, and I'm glad they did...

    Yes, We've Been Singing Spring Songs

  3. When my mom died, I told him the truth and invited him to ask questions if there was something he didn't understand. We were also honest with him about our grief...he handled everything very well for a boy his age.

  4. Mine have never asked yet, but my oldest has experienced it on her dad's side of the family, and plus she's a little older, so she understands more.

    By the way, today I posted the award you gave me...thank you!

  5. congrats on your SITS day...I dont have any kids yet...but I appreciate how you explained it to them...

  6. Maybe I'm just lucky, but mine haven't really asked straight out. They know people die for a great many reasons, some old, some young. They know when people die, they go to heaven if they have Jesus in their hearts. Not trying to be preachy, just saying what they know and believe. They also know that death is hardest on those of us left behind.

    On September 11, 2001, it was my 3 year old son that explained death to me. I hadn't meant for him to see the TV coverage, but he did, and we talked about it. He summed it up beautifully in a way that is so simple and yet so complete I could never do better:

    "They are in heaven now, and they can be happy, but it's still sad for their mommies and daddies for cause they'll miss their kids."

  7. I taught EFL at a Buddhist kindergarten, when one of our students, a three-year-old boy, died in an accident. I think the headteacher handled it beautifully in the assembly the next day when he had to tell the kids. He had them be quiet and listen to their heartbeat and breathing,and explained that little K wasn't breathing any more and his heart wasn't beating. He had them touch a classmate and notice they were warm, and explained that K wasn't warm any more. He had them hold a friend's hand and explained that K couldn't play with his friends any more, and that was sad - but that Amida Buddha was looking after him now, so he was ok even though he couldn't play with us any more. There was more but my Japanese isn't so great.

    K still gets assigned a cubby in the classroom, which has a photo of him and is kept full of fresh flowers and little gifts from his classmates. He's moved up through the classes with his brother, and every morning the kids in his class say good morning to him as part of their routine morning greetings. His picture also goes on school trips, and on stage if his class perform anywhere (like the school concert or the local nursing home).
    And now I'm tearing up...

  8. My kids play computer games where you fight the bad guys....and even in their pretend games, if a friend dies, you rez them. If a friend is hurt you heal them. (which led to this talk:
    So, for us it wasn't so much teaching about death as teaching that only God can rez people for real.

  9. Oh my. My almost 3 year old just started on this topic. Are you going to die Mommy? Not today Jessie. Some weekend mommy? I hope not for a VERY long time. Don't die mommy.... it is heart breaking sometimes.

    Found you because of SITS. Happy Sits day to you!
    Outrageous joy,
    Kathy over at Everyday Bliss

  10. My dad was just diagnosed with cancer----such a hard thing to share with kids. The circle of life....

  11. I think the most my son has heard about death was after Michael Jackson died, and I'm still not sure how much of it he's processed! I was saying a prayer with him and I mentioned my own dad, and he asked me where my dad was (he's only met his granddad on his father's side).

    I've not really discussed heaven with him much but I told him he wasn't on earth anymore, and we couldn't see him except in pictures but that we could talk to him anytime. Again I don't know how much he took from that, it's an ongoing discussion I guess.

    To Abigail, that story about the Buddhist teacher's one of the most moving I've heard.

    To you, congrats on your SITS day. Have a ball!

  12. Happy SITS Day! When my beloved father died, quite suddenly, we told my 3 girls that the angels had come to take Grandpa up to heaven, to watch over all of us until we could join him when we were very, very old.

    It was a sudden lesson that none of us ever wanted to give, but by keeping him alive through stories and prayers, it has given them a meaningful lesson about life and death.

  13. WE have had to deal with a lot of deaths in the past year but luckily my daughter is only 2 so she wouldn't understand even if I told her. She just says they are sleeping.

  14. Happy SITS day from a SITSta! I came over from SITS and I love your style of writing. As for the death and dying conversation, we told our 3 year old son that when people we love die, they go to heaven with God. We told him that even though they're not here with us in their old body, they are everywhere once they pass on. They're in the air around us, the wind, the rain, the sun. God loves us so much that he keeps them in our hearts so we won't be sad. And God makes heaven so wonderful, that the people we love can't wait for us to get there and share it with them. He still has no clue what we're talking about, but I think the nature of the language and tone of the conversation eased his fears and made his little mind rest easily. You did a fantastic job! I love that you put it out there, it's a great topic for discussion.

  15. Death is frightening. I hate the thought. I spent countless nights not sleeping when I was younger because I feared it. And my poor parents had to somehow deal. I only found out recently that my own father was fearful as well, and my discomfort didn't help him... at all.

    But when my Grandfather passed this fall, I had to tell the kids. I actually avoided telling them for about 3 nights, until my husband forced it out of me. We explained that there's a difference between sick and old-sick and that some people get old-sick and then they die. Big understood. Middle kept thinking he'd be back later. Big shut down, Middle made Pop-Pop a card.

    Really, everyone deals with it differently. And I don't think kids are ready to understand the concept. Heck. I don't think adults are ready to understand the concept, either.

    I, too, found you through SITS. Glad to stop by. I'm enjoying your blog.


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