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My DD is 3 and a half and for the last 6 months has been aware of her heart beat and the fact of being alive.  She has also asked what would happen if her heart wasn’t beating would she be not alive any more and has concluded she would be dead.  This has caused her on a number of occasions to become very anxious and upset saying she doesn’t want to die.  She has not experienced death apart from the odd worm or bird and knows that when you die you don’t move anymore.  We are not religious but believe the body goes back to the earth, the natural cycle of life.  As for the spirit or soul, i think lives on in some form, as energies maybe, but certainly don’t have a matter of fact theory.  She keeps saying to me ‘but mummy we won’t die will we?, I don’t want to die’.  I am finding this terribly hard and wondered if any one else had had a child so young aware of their mortality and how to handle sensitively and gently.  I feel so inadequate as she is so upset when this happens :-(

SAHM and loving it to DD Feb 09

“Don’t go through life, grow through life.” - Eric Butterworth

Hi, I can’t comment on my boy specifically as he hasn’t brought the subject up yet but when I was very small (probably about 4) I was told about the idea of re-incarnation by my uncle (who happens to be a Buddhist monk) and was taught a blessing/mantra to say when someone or something dies: Om Mani Pad Me Hum (literal translation: Hail to the jewel in the lotus). From that point on I said it for anything from a squashed worm, road kill or person as a mark of respect for the cycle of life (and still do say it). I never saw death as something to be scared of as I saw it as a transference of energy from one thing to the next and so on.

I’m not particularly religious (and there may be some Buddhists on here that know about this much more than me) but it is a great comfort and I even have a tattoo of the mantra on my shoulder as it has been something that shaped me. It is something I will discuss with my son when he asks about it all although I will tell him that it is just one of a number of ideas about death and it is his choice on what he believes.

Hope this possibly helps, am interested to hear of other methods of talking to kids about this sensitive subject too.

Mum to Kai (06/10/09) and Ari (24/09/15)

My husband’s jewellery shop: http://www.etsy.com/shop/EarthlingBling ?
My blog: http://ourindiaventure.blogspot.com
My work: http://ecofemme.org/

My just turned 4 year old has brought it up twice and I’ve found it very difficult. I’ve been honest that it will happen to all of us but I don’t think I’ve been clear enough to him about what it may be like eg he says “how will it feel to be dead?” and I’m just not sure how to answer, as I’m not particularly sure what I believe except in peace and stillness. I did wonder about saying a bit of us is carried on in people around us, in terms of energy and spirit and also memories of that person. Would it be bad to say “when mummy dies I will always be with you inside you” or is that too weird and abstract for a little one?

He also says he doesn’t want Mummy and Daddy to die and I have said he’ll probably have his own family then and his brother will be around and they will be a team and he will start crying and say “but we are a team!” I acknowledge it is very hard to think about and hold him and talk about it happening a very very long time from now but I don’t think that’s much comfort to a 3 or 4 year old. Perhaps I need the whole thing to be less sad/negative/scary-any ideas how to make it gentle and positive whilst still acknowledging the difficulty of the feelings?

Looking forward to hearing what others say. I think we should be gentle with ourselves as it is a very hard one, both in terms of what to say and to contemplate some of these things in terms of our children too ie I can’t bear to think of being away from them or them being without me!

Mum to two boys, Roan (Nov 08) and Jude (Oct 11) and a little girl, Amalie (Jan 14). Trying to parent as gently and lovingly as I can.

I have always had a leaning towards Buddhism and the comfort you got, Dandelionseed, is what I am wanting to provide so this is really helpful.  Part of this is also about re-thinking my own spirituality, my DP is pretty much a believer of you die and that’s the end but I think there is so much more… Sara I think it is so true what you say about being easy on ourselves as I do feel like I should be able to provide the answers.  I didn’t think I would be dealing with these big feelings so young.  It is so hard.

SAHM and loving it to DD Feb 09

“Don’t go through life, grow through life.” - Eric Butterworth

My DS started to ask about death at about 4yrs and I used nature, particularly the changes in the trees that he was aware of by then, to talk about how everything is a cycle, that everything has its time, but new life can begin because of what has come before and also that it is only our body that dies and returns to the Earth not our essence or soul, whatever you like to call it. 

I know this reflects what I believe and may not be right for you, but I certainly found that speaking about death as a next step, an adventure even, rather than an ending and treating it as a fact of life, not a taboo subject has helped him.  That’s not to say he doesn’t still have worries about dying from time to time and it is mostly about me and his dad dying these days.  I usually tell him that although we all have our own time here (I don’t feel I can lie and say I won’t die), I’m planning on sticking around for a long time yet and that the important thing is to enjoy our time now.  I’ve also talked to him about that he will always carry a part of us in him, even if we are not with him.  I wish I could find a perfect answer to soothe a little, worried mind at these times, but I am still fathoming out my own spiritual views and what I believe. 

Good luck.

Lizzie x

Mum to Isaac, Dec 2003

This is a great quote, a little grown up for a young one but still a nice sentiment without any religious connotations (found on this site: http://parentingbeyondbelief.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=58&sid=2c8dccd936d3fd75abd5299a7243317a):

“You want a physicist to speak at your funeral. You want the physicist to talk to your grieving family about the conservation of energy, so they will understand that your energy has not died. You want the physicist to remind your sobbing mother about the first law of thermodynamics; that no energy gets created in the universe, and none is destroyed. You want your mother to know that all your energy, every vibration, every Btu of heat, every wave of every particle that was her beloved child remains with her in this world. You want the physicist to tell your weeping father that amid energies of the cosmos, you gave as good as you got.

And at one point you’d hope that the physicist would step down from the pulpit and walk to your brokenhearted spouse there in the pew and tell him that all the photons that ever bounced off your face, all the particles whose paths were interrupted by your smile, by the touch of your hair, hundreds of trillions of particles, have raced off like children, their ways forever changed by you. And as your widow rocks in the arms of a loving family, may the physicist let her know that all the photons that bounced from you were gathered in the particle detectors that are her eyes, that those photons created within her constellations of electromagnetically charged neurons whose energy will go on forever.

And the physicist will remind the congregation of how much of all our energy is given off as heat. There may be a few fanning themselves with their programs as he says it. And he will tell them that the warmth that flowed through you in life is still here, still part of all that we are, even as we who mourn continue the heat of our own lives.

And you’ll want the physicist to explain to those who loved you that they need not have faith; indeed, they should not have faith. Let them know that they can measure, that scientists have measured precisely the conservation of energy and found it accurate, verifiable and consistent across space and time. You can hope your family will examine the evidence and satisfy themselves that the science is sound and that they’ll be comforted to know your energy’s still around. According to the law of the conservation of energy, not a bit of you is gone; you’re just less orderly.”

Mum to Kai (06/10/09) and Ari (24/09/15)

My husband’s jewellery shop: http://www.etsy.com/shop/EarthlingBling ?
My blog: http://ourindiaventure.blogspot.com
My work: http://ecofemme.org/

My son has started talking about this too, but more as a point of curiosity…no anxiety (yet).  A few years ago, I came across in my reading (couldn’t tell you anymore where I got it though or from what tradition it comes), that some believe the soul/spirit continue to exist on another plane, and do work similar to what we do here- there’s things on that side we need to accomplish too.  Then when we’re ready, we choose new parents back in this plane, and are born to them.  I really like this last bit (well the whole thing really), and when DS first asked about death shared it with him.  So now he talks about when “he chooses a new family .....”

I really like what others have shared as well.  There’s some interesting food for thought here.

SAHM to DS- 10/08 and DD 11/10

Thanks everyone for your thoughts it has really helped me focus as I was definitely flailing around!  I also feel relieved that I’m not the only one who is going through this.  Definitely helps to share grin

SAHM and loving it to DD Feb 09

“Don’t go through life, grow through life.” - Eric Butterworth

Interesting, Amphitecna, as ds told me, unprompted, when he was very young that he had chosen me as his mummy before he was ‘a seed’ (this was the expression I had used to describe where he came from) and there were a few other instances when he made similar references to what had happened before this life, so maybe there is some truth in this?

Lizzie x

Mum to Isaac, Dec 2003

Hi, haven’t read the whole thread (sorry!) but I experienced something very similar with my eldest and it was really upsetting. I tried many ways to just talk about it simply and even my dad who is a committed atheist was suggesting we maybe just tell him about heaven to give him some comfort!

In the end I very simply said one day that some people believe that when we die we go onto another life - maybe as someone else or as tree, flower or animal…the change that came over him was profound and immediate. It was like a great weight had been lifted. He asked a few questions about what we’d like to come back as and spoke a little about what he would choose and then it all just seemed to go.  He almost never seems to even think about dying any more…he was nearly 4 I think…

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