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Wednesday, January 10, 2007


And there's no difference
Between the Earth and the sky

There's no reason
We have to die
--"Evergreen" Matthew Sweet

"AND YOU WILL ALWAYS LOVE US,
AND YOU WILL ALWAYS BE OUR MOMMY,
EVEN AFTER YOU ARE
DEAD "
-- India Turman

This is a common refrain in our household. The Short People and I will be playing a rousing game of Candyland, driving in the car, or eating lunch and India will launch into this now-familiar statement. She's said it so often that Kate will join her and they chant in unison. There's always that special emphasis on the word "dead".

It all started with "The Lion King". India was curious and asked lots of questions about Mufasa "gettin' deaded"; then last spring after my grandmother passed away India had many more questions. At one point she even asked me if Granny fell off a cliff just like Mufasa (talk about comic relief)! She's a bit obsessed with the subject; can't decide which I dislike more...incessant talk about "The Little Mermaid" or incessant talk about death.

The other day India wanted to know where your body goes when you die. I explained about graves and cemeteries, and she insisted that we drive past one so we did. I really believe in answering kids' questions in a limited, simple, but honest way so I try to be truthful in discussing difficult topics. So we talked about cemeteries as a place to honor our loved ones and the comfort that brings to the rest of us. I opted to avoid discussing cremation and explaining that is what her Daddy and I have chosen...especially since a recent fire safety segment at school scared the begeezus out of her!


I strongly believe that our culture inappropriately shields children from death. No longer do we see farm animals die so we may eat, no more do we hold wakes in our home; death is sanitized to the point that we just don't talk about it. Now people like me are hired to enter schools and counsel children on how to deal with something that was just a part of life 50 years ago. With that said, however, I feel there is a happy medium of what is appropriate for a 4 and 2 year old and walking that line can be difficult at times. India and Kate are not upset by the subject, just curious. And I'm okay with that...to a point. India's death refrain always stops me cold. I hide my tears, hug them close, and tell them "That is exactly right, my loves. Exactly right."

3 comments:

NCArthurs said...

I couldn't agree with your philosophy on death, dying, and children more, my friend. That's why, at the Arthur house, we always have fish. On our plates, yes, that too, but also in a tank.

Auntie said...

This post made me cry!

Deana said...

I agree that you can't shield them too long. Death is inevitable. The circle of life is all too real.

Though I would have to be like, "Okay could we please not talk about mommy being dead...mommy is a candy and she doesn't want to be dead."