After attending three funerals in two months, death seems to be on the brain. But more so, talking to my kids about death seems to be on the brain. Here are the things I want them to understand:
Everyone dies. My sons seemed to be sincerely amazed when I told them this. But I shouldn’t be surprised. What child would want to think about it? And when you’re young, old is old, whether you are 25 or 85. To a child, life span means nothing, and when a grandparent dies, it is the exception and not the rule.
You will feel bad when someone dies. You will be sad. When you think about that person, you will remember they are gone and it will hurt bad. Remember when we dug up that plant and there was a hole in the ground? Our heavy soil left the hole with sharp, defined edges. We could even see marks from the shovel edge.
But it won’t hurt this bad forever. Just like a skinned knee or bumped head, bad pain from grief won’t last forever. While grief doesn’t go away as fast as a skinned knee, eventually the pain is duller. Kind of like that hole in the ground, the rain will soften the hard edges and the crumbling soil will fill in the depth a bit.
It’s okay to be happy when you’re sad. You can go to school and play with friends. You can learn math and music and make believe. You can be happy and sad at the same time; it will just be a different kind of happy. Like when we planted a new plant in the hole. We could still tell that the old plant used to be there, but the new one brought anticipation.
Love Jesus, don’t fear death. It’s scary thinking about dying, but Jesus tells us he has a really cool place for us when it’s time for us to die. That’s how faith works. None of our ancestors have ever come back from heaven to say, “It’s really true! There really is a God and a Heaven!” We have to believe it even though we haven’t seen it yet.
Sigh. I wish I was one of those great moms that could teach all of life’s lessons in full comprehension to my boys. I wish they could have an in depth adult conversation with me so I would know how much they understand and what I still need to work on. I wish they could download everything I want them to know, like Neo in The Matrix. Most of all, I wish impossibly that they would not have to experience the pain of grief.