When I was growing up people in our family died, of course. But kids in our family didn’t go to funerals. It would be too upsetting. Not being of a religious household, I guess there wasn’t the same thought that kids should participate in these “life” events. We never really had a way to process that Grandpa wouldn’t be there anymore. They were just gone. Of course we knew to be sad. But, in retrospect, talking about it would have been better. And maybe part of that was the time I grew up in. Or maybe it was just my family. I’m not really sure. I remember friends talking of people that died in their families and they went to the funerals…….maybe it was my family.
I feel that talking to kids about things is super important. It really doesn’t matter what the subject is. (Of course, you have to take into consideration their age and adjust for that). But kids ask questions. Kids are curious and not talking colors subjects as a negative. Kids are quite resilient. Giving them knowledge, again, age appropriately, is a fabulous thing. It gives them power and a certainty in life. It gives you the opportunity to hear their take on things.
Life is complicated and death is literally in the circle of life. Family members die. Friends, young and old die. Pets die. Strangers die. Sometimes after a long illness and other times quite tragically and suddenly. When it’s possible, understanding that Grandma is sick and when she dies she won’t be here but she will continue to be in your heart. Nurturing those special relationships before that time comes so that there are memories to share and hold onto is how it should be. And going to a funeral or memorial service is not going to warp or injure a child. It is part of life and continuing on. And kids have incredible insight on so many things….to include death. Let them have the opportunity, regardless of their age, to share their thoughts. Find out how they’re feeling since their dog has died. Don’t hide it from them or minimize their feelings. Talk it out. Communication is so important. And a kid’s perspective is usually full of some surprises as well as some incredible logic.
I tell my Sacred Embers clients that when a beloved person or pet dies…………..”It never gets better. Only different.”