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Wednesday, April 6, 2011

A tough topic

I hate that I even have to post about this, but I'm sure in the end, it will benefit all of us. I hope that it benefits all of us.

Just recently, Gracie has become very interested in DEATH! I don't know where it came from and I don't know where she learned about it but I hear her talk about it at least once a day.

Two examples.
1. Driving home from my brother's the other night, we saw an ambulance. Right away, Gracie asked what it was. (she's seen them before but I think because it was night, it looked more interesting to her). Immediately we told her that it was an ambulance and that it picked up people who were sick or hurt and took them to the hospital.
She said "do people lay down in  there?"
"do people die in there?"

We were stunned! Where did this come from? How does she know this? Why is a 3 year old even thinking like this? And how in the Hell do I answer that question?

2. Peter was running out to do some errands on Saturday morning, and I told him to take the dog. When Gracie saw Peter getting her ready to go in the truck, she lost it.
She started crying and saying that Fergie had to stay home that she couldn't go because she was her best friend and that she didn't want her to die just like Winston did.
Winston was our last dog, he died about a year and a half ago. Apparently we scarred Gracie with the way that we dealt (or didn't deal with) explaining it to her..
It seems like the only thing she remembers is Winston leaving in the truck with Daddy that day and not coming home because he went to Heaven.
I don't blame her for not wanting Fergie to leave! The poor thing thinks that her best friend is going to heaven every time she leaves the house.
How scary for a little girl.

How could I have dealt with this differently?

One other thing that Gracie does lately, is lay down,very still with her eyes wide open staring (it's awful!) when I ask what she's doing, she says "I died"...

So, my question is,, how do we deal with the subject of death with our kids? When do we deal with the subject of death with our kids? Is there a right way? Is there a right time?

I think that in my case, something obviously needs to be talked about soon. She doesn't seem frightened by death, but she does seem very interested and confused.
I know that I don't want to wait until I am FORCED to explain things to her. "They" say the last thing that you want to do when you have grief of your own, is explain death to a child.
I think that I would rather have the talk now and then when a day comes that she is actually faced with it, she'll we'll all be a little better prepared.

Do I get a book? A movie, do I make it fun, or should it be serious? Do we do it as a family, or just her and I? Where do I do it??
AHHHH!!! No one should have to deal with this subject.
Heck, there are some days that I still don't fully understand death, and now I have to try to explain it to a 3 year old??

I personally don't ever remember learning about death, or being told about it for the first time. I have no clue where I learned about it.

There is no point in me writing more on this subject, I'm lost with it.
I talked to my sister about it this morning and said that for some reason the subject keeps coming up, so it must be the universe's way of telling me to deal with it, i just don't have a clue how? I don't want to screw my kids up or give them any sort of fear..but I also want them to be comfortable with it.

Help ladies, what are your thoughts? What are your opinions..


Sadie said...

Our oldest also started on with this topic at about 3. She is now 5 and it still comes. She still doesn't really get it, but we have now dealt with a pet that died and a relative and as sad as both were they both helped her to understand a little better.

We found the biggest challenge is determining what your own beliefs are and how to express them. Once we agreed on our beliefs we have always tried to answer her questions simply but honestly. We haven't gone the book route yet, but often have discussed this topic after watching Disney movies (Lion King, Bambi, Little Mermaid, Cinderella, etc). They all have a death seen or a missing parent, and we think this is what sparked her curiosity in the first place. Again, we answered her questions as honestly and simply as possibly, but never offered more than what she asked. The biggest thing for us was that we wanted her to understand that death is sad and it can be scary, but that it is okay. This is a tough one...probably the hardest. Just pace yourself and remember that even though their curiosity can feel erie it is normal. Sorry to be so long-winded!

Sarah said...

Thanks Sadie, that gives me a lot to think about... I talked to her nursery school teacher about and she thinks that I should hold off on talking to her about it because she worries that I might put thoughts or ideas into her head, just because she is so smart. She said that she doesn't want her wondering WHY we're talking about it and then have her sit and think that someone is going to die.... Ahh,,, so much to think about!

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