Thursday, October 25, 2012

When Fears Come: Hallmark

This post is a Hallmark sponsored post. I am being paid by Hallmark to write it, but all writing, ideas and opinions are mine. Thankfully, Hallmark and I share the same idea--that little moments are to be celebrated and that good people, good efforts and good intentions deserve a spotlight. See Hallmark Life is a Special Occasion for more details, like them on Facebook, and/or sign up for their e-mail messages HERE.

A few nights ago, I lay down with Lainey and rubbed her back as she fell asleep. With our bodies sidled up against each other and her head nestled into my neck, we talked about the things we talk about at night—school, upcoming events, funny things that happened during the course of our day. Conversation slowly fizzled as she gave in to her exhaustion, and I was just about ready to slip out of bed and join Brett in the living room, convinced from Lainey’s silence and steady sighs that she was asleep. And then, in the dark, her little voice spoke up.

“Mommy, Tyler* said today that when you grow up, you die. That’s not true, right?” Her voice broke with that last question which was really more of a plea than a question—please say no; we don’t die, right?

Without much time to strategize my response, I replied as most parents answer these questions—off the cuff, from the heart, and as best as we know how. I brought my face close to hers so she could see my reassuring smile in the dark, and I swept her hair from her forehead as I kissed her.

“Baby, everybody dies at some point in life. Most people live for a long time, just like my grandpas and grandmas. Remember I told you how my grandma and both of my grandpas died after they lived a wonderful life and had babies and then had grandbabies and watched them all grow up?”

Lainey immediately started to cry. “No, Mommy,” she argued, “No, they don’t die.”

Oh, this wasn’t going to be easy. I realized at that moment that death was a new concept to her, despite the fact that we’ve flushed a number of fish—God rest ‘em—down the toilet and have casually discussed the cycle of life through stories of grandparents and the occasional children’s book with an orphan character. But this time, it was making a little bit of sense in her growing five-year-old brain, and her comprehension of this topic brought new fears.

I could tell she was distraught. Her voice wavered as she continued: “And Gabby* said that you can die even if you don’t grow up. She said you can die if you get really sick. That’s not true, right?”

Oh, sweet mother of I-don’t-know-how-to-answer-this. And so again, I took her little question, hugged it tight and did my very best to gather up a meaningful, honest yet child-appropriate response.

Serious questions deserve serious responses, but at that moment, I knew my girl needed security—some ventilation through the heavy fear blanket that was quickly smothering my little kindergartener. So I laughed—a soft, gentle laugh.

“Have you ever been sick, Lainey?” I asked.

“Yes,” she answered.

“And did you die?” I asked.

“No,” she replied.

“Lainey, Gabby is right in that sometimes that happens. But it’s not something I want you to be afraid of. People get sick all the time, but we have so many things that help us get better—doctors and medicine and hospitals and good food and rest.”

“Mommy, you forgot to do oils today,” Lainey interrupted. “Will you go get them?”

I knew what that question meant. We use essential oils to help us “not get sick,” and my poor girl had now associated that benefit with “not dying.”

I slipped out of the bedroom to get the oils, giving her a little space and thankful for the opportunity to give Brett a quick rundown of our conversation. His response was a little different. Because Brett was terrified of death growing up. He doesn’t know why, but he remembers how scared he was and even his mom reminds me that it was a very difficult concept for him as a child.

“Please don’t tell her too much,” Brett pleaded. “I don’t want her to be scared. You have no idea how much the fear of death plagued me as a child. She’s five, Kelle. She’s too young to be thinking about this. Change the subject, please. Tell her everything is going to be okay.”

His last statement sharply emphasized a desire most of us share as parents: tell them everything is going to be okay. As elusive as that promise is, that’s what we’d love for our kids, right? A fearless childhood and the assurance that everything is going to be okay.

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I so understand Brett’s desire—I mean, it’s my desire too—and I love how much he cares about the little minds of our kids. The fact is though, we have no guarantee in life that everything is going to be okay, and more than assuring my child that life is going to be dandy, I want to embrace every drop of good fortune we have while equipping my children with the tools to handle their fears and hardships.

Brett and I talked for another minute, uniting our approaches before I returned to Lainey and concluded our important conversation. I thought about a few things before I continued:

A) My goal is not to take away her fear of death. Death is scary. I think we all are, in some way, afraid of that great unknown. We don’t want to die when our kids are still young, and we certainly don’t want anyone we love to die either. It is natural and completely understandable that a five-year-old would be intimidated by this new concept. I want to acknowledge her fear.

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B) What does my child think death means? While I didn’t necessarily have to address the depth of death on this particular evening, I realized that we would need to talk more about what death means in the coming months. This definition means different things to different families—to many, incorporating faith and afterlife. Faith is important to me and my family, and yet because of my past religious history, it is also critical for me to live faith and breathe it to my children in a way that embraces different ways of thinking; a way that encompasses questions and uncertainties, and never a definitive “this is the way it is” or “here’s a crutch for your fear.” Faith does bring a lot of comfort to the concept of death for me, though. And while I don’t know all the answers—and I won’t pretend I do to Lainey—I will share my ideas and dreams with my children and the fact that I believe that death is not an end.

C) Brett is right about Lainey being only five. I don’t believe in telling your children things that aren’t true just to alleviate their fears. However, I think there’s a fine line between being honest with your children and talking to them like adults. They’re not adults. Psychologically, there are clearly defined reasons why we don’t present adult concepts at adult levels to a five year old. Every child is different as well.  We embrace our children's personalities when we talk about big things, and knowing Lainey and how her little brain works will guide us as we approach more of these challenging topics as she grows up.

D) I know families that have had to present the hard truth of death to their children because they experienced it first-hand—mothers and fathers, sisters and brothers. They too wanted to protect their children from knowing the depth of death’s meaning, but they didn’t have a choice. In some way, I want to honor their story and heartbreaking circumstances in the truth I present to my children. I don’t know how I’ll do it, but I think about this fact as I begin to knit together lessons for my family in my head.


I returned to bed, massaged sweet-smelling oil into my girl’s feet, and cuddled up next to her, relieved to see she was smiling, relaxed and distracted.

“How many more days until Halloween?” she asked.

I smiled and hugged her. “Eight more days. Are you excited?”

“Yes,” she answered, smiling. “I want to go to sleep now.”

And so the two of us tangled our arms together and repositioned into comfier hollows in our pillows, our discussion a thing of the past for tonight and yet a door to the future. There will be more talks of fear and death. And while I hope that the searing truth of this concept keeps its distance for a long while in our family and with those we love, I know that years of time will eventually deepen my children’s understanding of the cycle of life. To prepare them, I will do what I do every day. I will love my kids.

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I will teach them to be grateful for the wonderful things around them. I will encourage them to communicate their fears and questions with us, and I will be responsible with how I reply. I will live by example—making choices to be happy, to be compassionate to those around us, to educate myself and my family about the people of the world and their stories, and to embrace the sadness and unfortunate events in life with honesty and strength to overcome. Today we have so much to be grateful for, and there is comfort in recognizing that fact.

Fear isn’t a pleasant emotion, but it exists and it can certainly motivate us. How do you embrace your children’s fears? Do you discuss death and illness and tragedy in other places of the world with your children and if so, how to do you present that at an appropriate level? Hallmark and I would love to hear your response. Please be considerate of other families’ ways of addressing these topics. Enlightenment comes with an open mind.


To see other Hallmark posts on this blog, click HERE.

*Having entered the age of school and more complex social settings and topics, please note I’ve changed the names of Lainey’s classmates. This gets a bit more challenging as our kids grow up, and we embrace the challenges and changes that might come with blogging about our life.

123 comments:

April Vernon said...

Beautifully done, Kelle. Thank you.

Jillian22 said...

Beautiful post, Kelle. I am not a mother yet, but I hope you know how much I learn from you through this blog. I am still learning how to face my fears, but I feel I am getting closer.

Vanessa Uttaro said...

What a tough subject -- it makes the "birds & bees" talk look like a cakewalk, doesn't it?

Jodi said...

Beautiful Kelle. I am like Brett. A crippling fear of death as a child. I'm afraid I am still not the sort of person who can think too much about it without a racing heart and cold sweat. Your reassurance and calm is all you can do. Being there, and living life.

MamaLacey said...

Death - Always such a tough subject!

In November 2006, my 3yr old son died from Meningococcal Meningitis. His name was Landan, you can look up his story just by associating Meningitis & Landan. I had no other children at the time, newly married ... Landan was buried a month to the day that he walked me down the aisle with my Dad. Finally in 2008 my husband & I were blessed with our first child together, another boy. We're so grateful to have him in our lives! Of course we want him to know about his big brother that we're so proud of ... love & miss so much! So we have, in a way have taught our now 3yr old some things about death. He knows his big brother lives in Heaven, because that's what we believe as well. But as how to go about teaching them, I wouldn't say any way is right or wrong.

We have so many cards for the silliest things, I wish they'd make cards from loved ones in Heaven for special occasions. I know I wish I could have a card from my little angel on Mother's Day, my birthday & Holidays. Just like I wish I could give my son a card from his big brother in Heaven on his special days! Even if I couldn't buy them at the store & had to special order it. I know it would make millions happy!

Heather said...
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nettie said...

I think this conversation is pretty scary for all parents. I certainly don't want to lie to my kids but i don't want to frighten them either. I like your bullet point C. I hope when i am faced with this serious conversation that i remember my babies are babies and not to have an adult conversation with them.
My oldest (3) has recently been talking about death, but mostly in the spooky way. "ooh that ghost is dead! he's going to scare us" and then other times she'll say "mama, i don't want daddy to die in a fire" (My husband is a firefighter) and so i just say "I don't either baby, let's pray to God and ask him to bring him safely home to us. And then tomorrow let's give him a big hug and kiss to let him know how much we love him."
I hate those nights. My heart tears apart because those retched thoughts are mine too. Good luck to all us mamas when the conversation approaches us!

Gwen said...

What timing! Two weeks ago, suddenly on a car ride Saoirse asked out of the blue, "Will I ever die?" Honestly, even writing this takes my breath away. I said, as calmly as possible, "Well, baby, everything that lives eventually dies. So...yes. But most people live a long time, so that will not happen to you for a long, long time." She went off in another direction about how slowly people grow, and how bugs grow so fast. No tears. If she had cried, oh Kelle, I don't know how you did it. And for me, it's particularly awful, because I was like Brett on this. It's a particularly hard topic for me. I would rather talk about sex all day long. Nice job winging it!

Amanda Bailey said...
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Heather said...

Oh Kelle, you have struck a cord with me in this post. Death is such a difficult discussion to have with our kids. My son is 4 and when our goldfish died - he fell to pieces, I have glossed over it and kept discussions of death light and simple. Until 4 months ago, we were on our family vacation and my father-in-law dropped dead while playing on the beach with the family - he was 49. Death was thrown literally front and center. I hate that my 4-year-old knows what death is, that he draws pictures of broken hearts at school and he is 'that kid' at preschool that talks about death and tells other kids that you don't have to be old and you don't have to be sick - that death can just in his words 'come steal you'. He asks hard questions like why Grandaddy had to die, will Daddy die when is isn't old too and will he (my 4 year old) get to grow up to be an old man or die like Grandaddy? These discussions just plain suck. I appreciate that you have considered other families experiences and perspective when considering what to tell Lainey - I am with Brett on this one, she is 5 and unless death makes an appearance in her life I'd say let her be five and don't let the fear in because it sucks and that innocence should be enjoyed as long as possible.

lianna Kallan said...

Love this post, as it's an issue that worries me a lot lately.
Eversince our dog died, my five-year old son gets very upset whenever death is mentioned. If someone tells him that we all die someday, he will talk about it for days and cry himself to sleep.I read a lot of books about how to deal with his fear and asked several teachers and other mothers. In the end, I had to do what I felt best for my son. So I told him that when people are old and tired, they actually ask God to take them to Him and only then do they die. And it worked. In a few years time, I think he'll be ready to understand the truth, but for now I told him what he needed to hear. Because despite all the great advice books out there, only a mother can write the best book about her child.
Lianna- Cyprus

Cody Doll said...

I think that you did a great job. I was talked to like an adult at an early age and I couldn't handle it. It has lead to alot of problems later on so it's good that you realize she is a kid. But I also like that you realize that it's not going to be a fine and dandy. I think you did an amazing job. It's nice that you curl up with her before she goes to be. I sure when she is older that she will love you for it.

The Scott's said...

what a wonderful post.

Mama Kat said...

I have SUCH a hard time with this topic. My Dad died when I was 7 and like you, I don't want to dance around the fact that yes it COULD happen to our family at any time. But I also agree with Brett...there's so much pain already, preparing them for the idea of death might be pointless. All the prepping the world will not lessen the pain.

One thing I do make a point of is talking about my Dad in heaven, and how he is there getting everything ready for us. The house we will ALL live in, the pastures, the horses, the lake...we basically make up this ideal land we'll live in together and if something happens to me, I want my kids to know I'll be there waiting for them...taking care of their horses. ;)

My hope is that even though it's sad to be missing our loved ones, the idea of seeing them again someday and that we will live together forever will hopefully be comforting.

Sandy said...

We've had to address death lately because a dear friend is dying, and we wanted to be honest with our kids. We tend to focus on 3 things: 1) our faith in Jesus and how that relates to our beliefs about where our friend will go and why his family (and we) will see him again; 2) the good news--that his suffering will be over and that it isn't the end of the story (see point 1); 3) keeping it on their level. We realize that their fears are more immediate: will my dad die like my friend's dad? We admit that everyone dies, but emphasize that most people, like the great-grandparents they know, die when they're really old. We assure them that they don't have to worry about us dying, but we don't gloss over the fact that it could happen (we just don't talk about that part explicitly). Then we turn the topic to what we can do for those facing death: can we send a card to cheer him up as he lies in bed? can we play with our friend? can we bake their family cookies? etc. That seems to help--and we make sure they get some extra dad-time on those days they talk more about it!
I don't know that we have it figured out, but it seems to be working right now. We've also made certain to tell our son's teachers as well as the grandparents and anyone spending lots of time with the kids what's going on and how we're talking about the topic. We figure that way, they'll hear similar stuff from others if they ask....And, as I said in point 1, our faith provides us with a hope of heaven that makes a huge difference in these conversations.

Cassidy said...

Death is such a hard topic to talk about with kids. I have not introduced my 6 year old to church or any religion yet (not sure what path we will take), so she doesn't have a vast concept of God or Heaven or any afterlife. Someone at school must have said something about Heaven to her. She came home crying saying "I don't want to go to Heaven" completely shaken to her little 6 yr old core.

YeamieWaffles said...

This is so beautifully written Kelle. Despite this post really tugging on my heart strings it moved me in a wonderful way and I feel lucky to have read all about it, it's such a well written post, love it!

Jessica said...

My family is one of those families that has to talk about the subject all too often, my children lost their sister and their struggle to understand and my struggle to explain are never ending. Thank you for honoring that with your words.

NickandCaeli said...

Thanks for discussing and writing about such a difficult subject. I admire the courage you have to share such intimate details. I just want to encourage you to not look at faith as "a crutch for your fear." In fact, I'd challenge you to look at it more as a comfort for your fear. I see faith as letting ourselves put our trust in something we can't see and being confident that our hope has meaning. Using faith to combat a fear is a blessing. It's a way to live with hope and encouragement that even if something tragic happens, there is a bigger purpose in it all. This past year my dad was diagnosed with cancer and has been through 10 rounds of chemo so far. During a time in my life when I thought I'd lose all faith, I've never felt more hope. I really believe that if we have our faith to get us through difficulties, we'll never regret clinging to promises of good things to come. And if something devastating happens, I will still have faith, because without it, I'd be lost.
Lainey is so young and its such a sensitive and fragile subject but I hope you are open to continue teaching her about the good things that having faith does for us. And having faith in God's plan and purpose is the most promising kind of all.
Again, thanks for sharing. Xoxo

onesockmissing said...

I have two boys, one just turned 3 and the other is 5 1/2. My Father was diagnosed with cancer almost two years ago. We have been honest with the boys about their Grand Da being sick and needing medicine. At this point treatment is doing more harm than good so my Dad is being made comfortable and will only be with us a few more weeks. The boys and I will go see him again this weekend for what may be the last time. Sorry to ramble but your post really triggered a lot of emotions since I am trying to decided how much to share with my boys. Helping my children to understand dying may not be the most pleasant aspect of parenting but it is one of the most defining for both of us. Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts.

Heidi said...

Oh, it's such a hard topic! I wanted Gabe to be both prepared and innocent - two things I'm not sure can exist at the same time! I'm thankful he'd had some less emotional exposure to death before I miscarried in 2010, because it helped give him some context that made losing that baby less scary and upsetting. I was like Brett, though - I guess I still am to some degree, really, and I wanted to do whatever I could to make sure Gabe didn't live with that same consuming fear.

Beautifully written! Thanks for sharing!

Beth @ E. lizard Breath Speaks said...

oh, wow ... i love this post. since i was a young child i always had a fear of death. my ultimate fear. i would not even say the prayer about "if i die before i wake" because it scared me to death. such a scary thought. i sure hope it will get easier. makes you wonder why it effects some kids more than others. i'm glad you shared your thoughts here. i know for me ... it is still a tough thing to think on but i feel less scared because i know many are waiting on me. for a big old party. it will be a happening place when i get there. my family & friends are there. OH HAPPY DAY!! wow... big big hugs. (:

Emily Keck said...

I had the same fears when I was little, and honestly, at 24, I still have a lot of anxieties. My mom tells me that it's hormones, my age, and that it'll get better, and I hope that she's right :). Having faith also definitely helps me. I hope that one day I overcome my anxieties so that I can help me future kids be less fearful.

Hazel said...

Oh Kelle, what a tough one. Hopefully I have a few years yet before I have to deal with that questions (but thanks for sharing how you dealt with it).

Two things:

My grandfather died from a sudden heart attack when I was only 6. We actually lived only 2 houses away from my grandparents. I remember as a child that the afternoon seemed very dramatic, and my brothers and sisters and I were kept at our house with other family members whilst my parents, aunts and uncles gathered around my grandmother.
I must have known about what death was, but I couldn't quite grasp that he was in fact dead. When my parents came back they said they had laid him out on his bed. I begged to go see him, to make it real for me. Eventually they agreed, and I can still remember the walk down to my grandparents house in the dark (and was forever scared of walking down there again!) and seeing family and friends in the living room, so somber, then walking into their bedroom to see him. He looked like he was asleep, but so pale. I don't remember if I kissed him or touched him, but I do know that the image stayed with me, and obliterated many of him alive. So I have decided that I won't see someone I love dead again, (maybe under some circumstance I might, but if it is someone I see regularly then I just don't think I can). As I was brought up in a Christian family, I at the time with my childish faith believe him to be heaven, and I probably still do.

Secondly, a dear friend of mine after having several skin cancers removed over a number of years, got secondary liver cancer. He was 40 when he died, and left behind a wife and 3 children (aged 10, 8 and 5).
It broke my heart at the time that he was dying in such pain, and that he knew that he wouldn't see his precious children grow up. I think that's what made me so sad, I remember just sobbing at home, and it was all I could think about, how he must feel, how it must eat you up. He was the most fun, loving, gracious, and caring man I have known, and even to the last despite all the physical pain, he care of others was evident. His children still remember him, and talk about him (which I think was really important), they of course get upset about from time to time, and I know the youngest is terrified of people he knows getting cancer. But in the most part they are very normal kids. Maybe fears will come out later, but I was so amazed at the way they dealt with death, they seemed to accept it far better than I could.

Dixie Vandersluys said...

Thanks, as always, for your thoughts Kelle.

Here's the discussion we had with our kids when our five year old son asked the big question. (This was about a year after going through the death of my grandparents and a few months before we would say good-bye to my husband's father because of dementia.)

http://vandermeander.com/?p=2603

Taylor said...

It makes me sad to think of leaving my girls motherless (as an adult I am still terrified of death). I wont be bringing it up until I am asked by one of them...I know the prayer can be revised a little "now i lay me down to sleep I pray the lord my sole to keep, if I live another day, I pray the lord to guide my way. Amen" and it kind of avoids the death sentence of the prayer :)

Coffeemomma said...

Oh Kelle....this is such a tough talk. We've had it, because we still have pictures of my Ben and we still talk about him...and my older son (who was two months old when Ben died) is starting to ask questions now, questions like "Where does Ben live" and "Is he growing up". I don't know if I have handled them well. I know that we have been fortunate enough to be able to contact the hospice we used ("used" is SO not the right word...adopted? That's better...). They've been a HUGE help. I think you did exactly the right thing....I guess my opinion is that if we let our kids know that we love them and they are safe, and that we're a little unsure too, it's okay. So tough. I hope it all gets sorted out soon. I love that you share all these everyday things that we all struggle with. XO.

Nicole said...

My daughter was two years old when her baby brother died. We dealt with anger, outbursts for literally months. When I was expecting another child, it resurfaced, and again when I was expecting my youngest child.

When her brothers were very little, she told them about their brother who died. That raised soooo many questions.

She's 20 now and she still tells me that she remembers her brother and misses him.

Death is a part of life, and so difficult to talk to children about, without scaring them or telling too much. Good luck as you continue this journey with your beautiful daughter.

Five Fairies said...

My three older girls who are 9,7 and 6 have all gone through times where they have had quite a pre-occupation with death. They didn't seem particularly scared, more so wanting to understand why it had to happen and wanting to know where you go when you die (this was a hard one for me, as I instinctively wanted to say "heaven" to make it easier for them, but it is not a concept that I believe in myself.) Recently the topic of death has become more scary to them, as I lost a close friend suddenly, a year ago at the age of 30. She left behind two young children, who are my children's friends, so then it became more "real" to them that someone is not coming back, and the fear was not so much of their own death, but that I might die and leave them without a mummy, like their friends did not have a mummy any more. I, like you Kelle, just answer the questions honestly, but with consideration given to their age, and how much they really need to know. I try to keep the conversations short, so they don't get pre-occupied with it, and move on to happier topics when possible. Really tough thing.

Gab said...

Oh this is a hard one...

When my eldest baby was only 5 and her sister only 18 months their daddy passed away... There is truly nothing that can prepare you for something as horrible and as brutal as telling your babies that their daddy isn't coming home... for me it was hell... both girls knew that everybody died eventually and that once you were gone from this earth we have to wait a LONG TIME before we meet again. I think it is very important that the circle of life is a 'base' information that children know... that they know that all things are born and that one day they will pass... it's not pretty but just the way things are :( Harder still for me was to explain how daddy could be gone and his beautiful little baby was growing in my belly and the concept that she would never get to meet her daddy... But this did reinforce the facts of life... every second of every day new life blossoms and sometimes fades. When my partner passed a dear friend gave us a book called 'Beginnings and Endings with Lifetimes in between' by Bryan Mellonie and Robert Ingpen. It is a very straight forward book and a wonderful book to initiate conversations... but maybe have a read through to decide for yourself wether it is appropriate for your little one :)

Gab xx

The J's said...

A beautiful post! Quite unexpectedly one day while riding in the car my youngest spoke up (under 5) and said "Mommy, we don't have to be afraid of dying, do we". I answered (because of our faith) No, but why do you say that? Her reply was: "Because an angel just comes down to pick us up in his arms and take us to Heaven". I asked her how she knew that and she replied "because God told me". I was stunned. We had never had a "death" discussion before.

Cheryl Victor said...

My brother was killed, when my boys were only 5 and 7 and my daughter was 18 months old. He was killed at my home, shot and killed.
I had to call their doctor, to make sure I could present it to them the best I could. I did my best but my middle son, has had problems steming from his uncles death. I'ts never easy. Best of luck, to you and your beautiful growing family

kEllEy_G said...

I liked this post...& I think you did just fine, Kelle. Death is such a hard thing for each of us, & like you & Brett, we all have different ways of handling it.
In 2005, my husband of almost 9 years was diagnosed with Anaplastic Large Cell Lymphoma in leukemic phase...a very rare blood cancer. We had 2 children together, & they were 6 & 4 at the time. From the get go, I felt I had to be honest with them because the doctors at University of Michigan hospital had been honest with me...my husband's prognosis was poor. Our youngest had just started kindergarten, 2 half days & 1 full day, so she spent quite a bit of time with me up at the hospital. We had 10 hard, beautiful months together (most spent in hospital rooms...even Christmas & New Years were celebrated there), & then my high school sweetheart passed away in July 2006, leaving me a 29 year old widow with a 7 year old & a 5 year old. We were broken together. I'll never forget the day he died...when I arrived home, both kids ran to me from where they'd been playing with cousins, & my oldest, our son, asked that question, "Did daddy die, mom?". We fell out on the grass, weeping & holding each other. God gave us so much grace....& I'm happy to say I have remarried a wonderful man, & we had our first child together almost 2 years ago. My husband adopted our 2 older children, now almost 14 & 12. But one day, when our littlest asks why his brother & sister have a hyphenated last name, or why their skin isn't the same color as his (my 1st husband was black; I'm white), then I know we will be having another difficult conversation. But until that day, like you, I'll be loving my family. Thanks for sharing your heart, Kelle!!

Carina Ader said...

This makes me extremely nervous! I've never thought about my daughter asking about death, I've always thought about sex and boys.. Never death.

So glad you posted this, now I know a way around it without making her to "scared".

yourfriendrobin said...

When we were kids, my little brother walked in to my living room while my mom was playing Mario brothers. He asks out of the blue, "Are you going to die?" Mom pauses the game and gives him a big hug. She tells him that yes, one day, she will die. But it will probably be a very, very long time away. He said, "oh man!" And she realized he meant on the game.

Sorry to make light of a serious topic, but I think of this every time someone brings up discussing death with their children.

Peg said...

Unfortunately for my kids this is something we have dealt with almost every day for the last 3 years (to the day actually yesterday). My sister and her husband were killed in a car accident 3 years ago and 2 of their 4 daughters now live with my husband and I and our 3 boys. Our five year old talks all the time about death. He also worries that if something happens to us, he'll be separated from his brothers like his cousins. Having my nieces with us, reminds them each day that mommies and daddies can die. Some days are better than others but we still try to get through with love and joy.

Living with grieving children is also a challenge. We talk and remember their parents every day, but sometimes its just really hard.

What is really tough is reassuring all of them that everything is going to be okay. My husband recently had a health scare that involved a 911 call and hospital stay. The kids are still struggling from it since our credibility is shot when they know first hand that bad things do happen.

I thought you handled Lainie really well and hope your kids are shielded from the pain of loss as long as possible.

Masala Chica said...

Ah, I see my friend Peg answered above. Yes - her family experiences a doozy when it came to exposing death to children. My heart aches for her and her family every day.

Shaila is 5 now and often asks about a baby boy on our block who died of cancer when he was a few days short of a year. He was a twin and we are close to the family. Every year, on the day of his death, there is a balloon release which our whole family participates in. Anytime she saw a balloon she would ask, "are we sending that up to heaven for Declan?" We have mentioned Heaven to her, to comfort her.

Late last year, her 17 year old cousin committed suicide, two days before New Years Day. My nephew, who was three, saw her prone body after she had taken a bottle of percocet and drank a bottle of Nyquil. He didn't understand why she wouldn't wake up.

I think you have to be very careful not to talk down to kids about it, but remember that their comprehension is not going to be that of an adult. That being said, I was exposed to death as a child early on and I was more comforted to understand the truth than to be told lies I would have seen through.

I think you handled it perfectly, Kelle.

Cynthia said...

What timing! My three year old daughter who is in preschool just asked me about dying today and asked if I could "sign her up for never, ever dying".

She must have read my facial cues as she then asked if I could do that....I told her she could invent that one day when she's a dr- the profession she always says she wants to be when she grows up....she then asked if another dr could help her do that. I said sure! Poor thing, I unwittingly put that burden back on her....

Louise said...

Just last week we passed a roadside memorial, a street sign covered with teddy bears and flowers. My son asked me why they were there and I had to make a snap decision on whether to go *there*. He is only 4. I told him they were there to remember someone, hoping that that would be it but he pressed me further. I told him someone must have died and gone to a wonderful place we call heaven, but the people still here on Earth must miss the person. He told me he wanted to see heaven and I told him we will all go to heaven one day but not until we have lived long and happy lives. He hasn't mentioned it since. I'm happy with my response because it took the fear away for him.

Nicole @ Pencil Skirts and Noodle Necklaces said...

Death is such a hard thing for tiny hearts to understand. Thank you for this post. Unfortunately, death is something that our family has had to deal with a lot in the last year. It is so hard to deal with as an adult and for tiny tots, it is even more confusing. We have questions we don't understand ourselves (like WHY at such a young age our loved ones were taken to heaven) and then we are summoned as parents to answer the questions from our young children. I'm so happy you can have these discussions under "easier" circumstances. I think you are an amazing mom. AND - I think you were right not to say what we all want to say - that you only die when you are old. It is an easy explanation and I have to admit that with our first family death last year we used it. Yet, when a young person was next, we had some explaining to do. It is never an easy topic. Feeling safe from fear starts with love. I know your girls both have that.

Nicole
www.pencilskirtsandnoodleneckalaces.com

Lauren said...

Starting as early as five, I was terrified of dying and would often get a paralyzing fear of lying in a hole in the ground alive and no one saving me. I don't know where the ear originated but it sure as heck has made me a worrier in life. Maybe all I needed was some sweet oils. Hugs to you, Mama. Conversations like this cannot be easy on your heart.

Rachel said...

What a hard and wonderful topic to stir us mom's to think about Kelle. Thanks for the vulnerability about your convo too. Because of our faith in Jesus we have woven in conversations about death since our kids were tiny. We talk about how Jesus died on the cross for our sins and that he made a path for us to heaven. When we die it is a path to a bigger and better life and that this is just the first part of our story. My brother died at 20 when my oldest was a baby and all my kids talk about Uncle David who lives in heaven with Jesus. We talk about how great heaven will be that there will be no more tears, fears that everything will be beautiful and fun! I guess we just have tried to weave it in often so that it is not one big scary thing. I have had the bed time teary talk with my 5 year old and we cried together about how death is sad because we are separated from our loved ones for a time but were brought to smiles and hope by the end reminded that eventually we are all back together again. I was like Bret scared to death of death as a child and teen. I remember laying in bed at night terrified of the unknown but as my faith has grown my fears have shrunk. I hope that even if some of my children have fear like that over time through faith the fears will be quieted and that we will do our best to comfort in the mean time. I think you did a great job. Thanks to all who have shared.

Susie Q said...

OMG, this post brought back so much for me. I remember being just about Lainey's age and laying in bed thinking about death ( a classmate's father died and we had gone to the funeral - my first experience with death). My mom sat with me and I cried and told her I didn't want her to die, ever. That thought of being dead "forever" was too much for my little brain. I remember she told me that she wouldn't die for a very long time. She's turning 80 tomorrow, and I know I wont' have her around forever. How fast those years went. Her comforting me, like you comforting Lainey, is something I will never, ever forget. Cherish those you love today. Tell them how much you love them and what they mean to you.

Amy said...

This is a wonderful post. I had a similar conversation with my 3-year-old recently that terrified me (http://motherhoodandmiscellany.com/how-do-you-talk-about-death-with-a-three-year-old/). My approach to it was very similar to yours, honest, but not too honest for her age. I think you are so amazing in how gentle and calm you are about things like this. I have thought some about the issue in order to be more prepared the next time it comes up, and your points gave me some good things to contemplate. Thanks for sharing. - Amy

JennyCB said...

What a big, difficult topic, my friend. I would never in a million years know how to tackle advice or direction on such a thing. I simply don't know enough. I have a feeling, however, that five is too young for a bunny to understand the true knowledge of the irreversibility of death. Too sad and scary, deep... too much at that age. I think there's still 'magic' there (for lack of a better word), and that Lainey - and Lila and AJ - can't wrap their heads around the finality of death. Perhaps they think, at this age of only five, that someone who dies only does so for a little bit. And that they'll come back. Which is fantastical and lovely. And my very own, very personal belief, is that they shouldn't have to understand the true sadness and finality of it all right now unless, of course, there is someone very, very close to them who is dying. God bless the families who are dealing with that. God bless them a thousand times. When her cat died last year, my mom told the monkeys Higgy had "gone to go live with Jesus." I was pissed because I'd yet to have 'that conversation' with them. However, it's actually become a comfort to them, especially with the death of their Aunt Heddy in March of this year. They think Jesus is cool and chills out with Buddha and greets people and animals who die and that it's a vacation spot, of sorts. Maybe this is all a mix of what works, what your family is like, who your individual children are, who you are, how you deal with it, what you believe... So much. Good luck with this. And thank you, as always, for being so honest. Love you. And Lainey, too. xoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxo

Stephen and Lacie said...

Unfortunately, we were faced with the question of how to talk about death with our children...before my youngest two were born. Our first child was stillborn at 37 weeks. It was heart wrenching. We made a decision very early on that her memory would not be lost! We wanted her siblings to know about her. Although I KNOW my daughter (who is 4 and only a year younger than my first child would be) cannot fully grasp what it means, but she knows she has a sister who isn't with us right now. She often says that she misses her even though they never met (at least here on Earth). I am sure that subject will also come up with my son (who is about to turn a year old). It may be harder for me with him because he looks and acts (as much as I could tell from the womb) so much like his oldest sister! They both have seen pictures of her and my daughter is well aware that she was a part of our life albeit briefly. For now she doesn't ask much, which is fine! We just take it a day at a time and think through our answers much like you described in this post!

Kate Kranz said...

What a beautiful and thought-provoking post... one that mirrors my life at this very moment. This past June, a friend of mine lost her 3 year old daughter in a horrific drunk driving accident. Having a 3 year old daughter as well, (heck, being a mother in general), I took this very hard. I cried daily, fought panic attacks, and found myself talking about it often... in front of my daughter. As parents, we often forget how well those little ears listen and how well they understand what we are feeling, even if they are confused by it.

A few months ago, I took my daughter to Olivia's grave on what would have been Olivia's 4th birthday. I simply told my daughter (who had never met Olivia) that we were going to "visit her." When we got there my daughter was furious to discover that Olivia was no where to be found. She had expected a play date and I soon found myself completely unprepared for the questions that followed. As we sat at Olivia's final resting place, surrounded by pink flowers and coloring pages left by her little friends, I tried my hardest to explain the concept of Heaven. I explained that Heaven is a beautiful place that only angels can get to, and so we find special places here on Earth to go to talk to the angels and to "visit them." My daughter seemed content with that answer, however she then asked how Olivia became an angel. Not wanting to lie to her (since I knew full well that she had heard her daddy and I discussing it recently) I told her that Olivia became an angel when she died in a car crash. As I type those words Im reminded again of how stupid it was to say those words to a 3 1/2 year old. Luckily, she didn't develop a fear of car crashes (as I was petrified she would) but she does continue to ask questions about them.

It has been 4 months since Olivia passed away and my daughter still asks questions regularly about death, Heaven, and car crashes. But Ive come to learn that the best way to deal with these questions are to answer them truthfully, but as simple as possible. Our babies brains can only process so much information and providing them with all of the details and answers (provided that we have them) can actually cause more concern and anxiety for them than necessary. As parents, the best we can do is keep the lines of communication open so that our children continue to feel comfortable coming to us and asking us the difficult questions. Because those difficult questions, are only just beginning...

Happiness is... said...

This is a hard topic. And I think that both of you brought a real balance to the need to answer Lainey's question versus sheltering her from the fear of death.

We lost our beloved dog when Alex was 2, and my mother years before then. But their spirits our alive in our house. We talk about them from silly stories to why we love them. And there are pictures of both of them in the house - because we love them. And sometimes Alex turns the conversation to what made them go to heaven. And how Grandmommy is caring for Buckley. And that one day we will all see them again.

But there's something less than concrete for Alex as it relates to her ability to grasp the separation of death. She understands that she cannot see Grandmommy, but she handed me my phone in disgust and asked me to call Grandmommy now. Because somehow we can talk. And I just cried.

Sometimes Alex reminds me that there is a lot of innocence and mystery in being a child. And I pray daily for her happiness, and our ability to somehow navigate the difficult without squashing her soul.

Unknown said...

My uncle and my mom's best friend (who I loved so much) both passed away of cancer when I was in low elementary school grades. I remember my mom explaining to me that they were sick, and that her friend was going to lose her hair - but not to be scared. I remember the "Good news! She's doing well!" talks but then overhearing the "She's back in the hospital talks months later." I was sad but didn't become truly scared until I saw a St. Jude's infomercial on TV and realized this terrible sickness thing can happen to anyone. To this day, cancer and death are my top fears - to the point that I self-diagnosis on WebMD. I remember what brought me comfort was praying. I was never taught HOW to pray but my parents told me that people who pass away go to heaven. I knew that God was in heaven so I went into my mom's room, where she has some religious icons, and talked to Him. It helped and while I don't consider myself a very religious person, I will say that this still helps me today.

Nancy said...

With six kids under 12 in our little family, we have faced oh so many of those late night questions -- pleas, more, as you said. Sometimes something huge that we will all face like death. Sometimes fairly irrational terror over something they did a drill on in school -- fire, earthquakes. And sometimes fear over the very worst horrors of life -- horrors that they don't even realize the true terror of in their fear -- such as kidnappings.

Every time, it makes me sick and makes me want to shake my fists a bit at the sky, simply because I can't actually 100 perrcent promise and guarantee that none of those things will ever ever touch them.

However, we do talk fairy frequently -- and positively, I think -- about the fact that part of life, part of this whole living business will be heart ache and hard times, but that they hopefully won't make us bitter or hopeless, that instead they will mold us and shape our character and teach us compassion.

And mostly, as someone who spent much of her childhood worrying about all the hard and scary things that might ever happen, I try to make our focus be very much on all the good and happy and fun things that will for certain be a part of our lives.

ourwaytoeat.com said...

I am an estate planning attorney, and so I talk to people about their affairs after death and hold their hands when they deal with loved ones death on a daily basis. Something to know, when you think about how much info to give your kid is, even for most adults, death isn't very "real" and that is OK. It is not worth wasting precious moments being afraid. When death occurs, fortunately, most cultures, families, and religious communities have a supportive response. The systems that go into motion help people to cope. There is nothing that an understanding of the gravity of loss can do to prepare a person for this when it happens. I think it is very important for parents to be legally prepared, so that their kids aren't left in chaos if the worst case happens, but beyond giving a basic understanding, this is a life lesson that is honestly more humanely taught through experience. It is inevitable, but so varied. If your child has to go through the most torturous losses, there is nothing much to prepare for that, (Unless it is imminent and can be discussed) it just has to happen. Hopefully, they will be in the statistically more likely to see their Grandparents, parents and friends live to an old age before they die. And when it comes, it matters most that we have family, fiends and communities that have a deep, natural urge to take care of each other. All of this said, kids ask questions, and parents are challenged to handle it. It seems you did well.

DandM Dutton said...

My conversation a few weeks ago with my 5 year old:

Mommy can kids die?

Yes, honey, kids can get really sick, or hurt, just like grown ups. And, sometimes they can't get fixed by doctors. That's one reason we try to keep our body healthy with lots of sleep, good food, and exercise.

What happens when we die?

We go to Heaven and see everyone who has already died before us.

Will we see Sophie? (our dog who passed 2 years ago)

Yes, and Great Grandma and Great Grandpa, and .... (so on)

Mommy, I want to go to Heaven.

Well, there are rules about going to Heaven, honey. Once you go, you can't change your mind and come back. It's kind of like leveling up in your video game. You might want to see what's next, but you can't come back, and I would really really miss you. Most people only level up when they get really really old, we have lots of things here to do first.

Rocky is going to die next isn't he? (our 14 year old dog)

Probably.

He can play with Sophie again. I'll miss him.

So will I honey.

Beth Skelly said...

My son is 10 and we have had many opportunities to talk about death in his short life (some as easy as the flushed fish and some really tough ones, grandparents and a much beloved dog). I think the important thing is to answer the question they ask. You may have an entire speech and a tap dance prepared and all they may need is a yes or no. I feel you really have to let them guide you, unless there is specific information you need to convey. One of the greatest resources I have ever come across is a little book called Lifetimes: The Beautiful Way to Explain Death to Children by Bryan Mellonie. It is a completely secular book, explaining how everything has a life span and there are estimates for how long things usually live, but no one knows for sure (the book does a much better job - my description sounds grim!) What I like so much about it is that you can overlay your beliefs, your faith at the end of every sentence or page or... I think this book is a treasure!!!

Life with Kaishon said...

I've always thought you were a great Mom. From the very first post. Now I think it even more.

Farmgirl Paints said...

You and Brett sound like really sweet thoughtful parents. It's so obvious how much you love your girls. My oldest just asked me about rape and abortion the other night. She had heard the words and didn't know what they meant. It's so difficult talking about hard topics, but that's our job. I always just pray and ask God to help me. He knows I need it;)

Sabrina said...

My four year old was in tears one night after overhearing that his teacher (and our neighbor) had gotten broken into - and that her watch was missing.

It turns out he was terrified of being robbed, and of someone taking all his Lego. After explaining that he'd get new Lego (I know, not parallel with death at all) my final question to him was, "how many people do we know? and how many do we know who got broken into?" I asked him whether it was a better idea to get really worried about something that doesn't happen very often, or a better idea to feel good about what happens most of the time. So hard to alleviate the fears of little ones without giving them answers that aren't completely true, or that perpetuate their fear.

Libby said...

oh man...my mom passed away last november, right before my great nephew turned 4. he was ok during everything. but this past spring, when my sister and niece were taking the kids to the mausoleum to visit the niche that we put mom's urn in (that has a glass front so you can see the urn and keepsakes we put in there), they told the kids they were going to "visit" granny not thinking anything of it. my sister explained that granny wasn't really there, that she was up in heaven but that the urn had her ashes in it and they would look through a window and see it...fast forward to that night and he was very very quiet. my niece asked him what was wrong and he said "i thought we were going to be able to look through a window and see granny in heaven"...talk about heart breaking. it still takes my breath away thinking about it. you never realize what these little minds pick up and how they process the information...

Jocelyn said...

I have never lost anyone very close to me. I have lost good friends in school, grandparents, an Aunt but none that I was really close to, so I have been very blessed to not taste the bitterness that comes with death. For that, I am grateful. I cannot imagine what it would be like to lose someone you really love and care for. So my response might not be right but it is what it is.

I feel that age appropriate truthful answers are what is always best. That could be just me though. The worst thing that could happen is lying and then one day, they have to deal with the harsh reality of what death really is.

I know some people might think it rude of me to think that losing a grandparent and Aunt would not be devastating. I was never really close. My great Aunt was the closest one that I lost but I felt total peace when she passed.

Lindsey said...

Unfortunately, we are one of those families that has death play a role in it. My sister, Kelsey Smith, was murdered June 2, 2007. 3 years before I had kids. But we have a foundation in her name and pictures of her. So naturally my 2 1/2 year old has picked up on who she is. She asks things like "Where is she?" "Can she come see me?" and we've had to have some tough conversations.

How do you explain to a 2 year old death, evil, and murder? I just told her that Kelsey is Mommy's sister, her aunt. And right now she lives far away in Heaven with Jesus. That you can talk to her and look at her picture, but she can't come play. So now she sometimes talks to her on the play phone and likes to have her own picture of Kelsey. It's tough, because I don't want to lie, and I don't want to scare her. So I've worked on age appropriate things and we did go to her gravestone and leave flowers for her.

I think you handled it very well with Lainey.

gwen said...

I'm with you in that it is so hard to talk about death with children without a cliched religious response. Unfortunately, my 6 year old daughter has lost 3 people close to her in the past 3 years. I don't talk to her in terms of God although her father does. My response is to just love fully those around you because life is fragile. It's really a beautiful thing to have a life well lived.

cdnkb said...

I was terrified of death as a child. My parents are atheist, and my mom told me it was just like going to sleep and never waking up.

I spent my whole childhood terrified of death (AND of falling asleep!). I studied a lot of religions, and tried to force myself to believe things to comfort myself. I tried not to think about it.

My oldest is 5. He got into death talks at 3.5 when a few people died in our lives (distant relatives and family friends - he heard of the deaths but didn't know them well). He became obsessed. He asked to pull over and see graveyards. He asked constant questions. He told me he will invent a magic potion when he grows up that we can all drink to make us die at the same time (which made me feel like throwing up at the very thought of that!).

Ironically, talking to my children about death has let me overcome my fear of death. I'm okay now; I'm finished with those anxieties. I realized that I'm comfortable with my beliefs (as an atheist) and while I want my full stretch on this earth, I don't fear the end of it.

Some things I talked about with my eldest (5) and recently my second son (3):

- When we die, it's like composting: our bodies go back to the earth and our nutrients and energy are recycled into new life. We compost at home (community compost pickup), so it's something we talk about a lot.

- We take turns. If people never died, then we would have never been born, because the world would have been full of the past generations that never left. We are currently enjoying our "turn" on the earth, and must someday die for future generations to have theirs.

- My son tells me he doesn't want to die. I remind him that he usually doesn't want to go to bed, but sometimes, on holidays when he's up hours past bedtime, he tells me he's tired and asks me to tuck him in. I tell him OF COURSE he doesn't want to die now, when his life is just beginning, but something, after a long, amazing, wonderful life, he'll be ready. It's impossible to imagine right now, but just like bedtimes, someday he'll be tired and ready to end his day.

- I ask him if he was scared before he was born. He thinks that idea's funny and says of course not. I tell him that's what death is - we've been to that 'nothingness' before and it's not scary, and it doesn't hurt. It's just nothing.

- We watched a Christmas movie where Elmo wishes it was Christmas every day, and Christmas stops being fun and special. I tell my kids that life is special because it's only for so long. If it was forever, it would lose what makes it so precious.



I really enjoy reading stories like this about Laney because my son is so close in age. He also started kindergarten this year and he's very thoughtful and sensitive, and cautious with his smiles. I relate to these posts the most. Thank you :)

Katrina

Barb said...

Ah, such a hard topic. You did a wonderful job. <3

picturinwords said...

Certainly not the easiest thing to talk about, and my kids were sensitive to the subject very early. I share Brett's opinion, yet I also think that kids can handle so much, and maybe more than us grown-ups. Lying and hiding would be the worst thing, cause as soon as they ask, they've started elaborating their opinions and imagining things. And imagining is worse, I think. They give us a signal when they ask, for me it means we can no longer avoid a subject. They need our (delicate, responsible) answers, and the support of love and the assurance that if bad things exist, they don't happen all the time. They need to feel protected and informed. That's how I see it anyway.

Diana Doyle said...

Kelle, Death is a common topic with my daughter Dempsey because her sister died, her Nanna and also my sister, her aunt.

I'm constantly aware that Dempsey is only 10, but experiencing the death of her sister Savannah evokes many questions and fears.

And to be honest, I don't sugar coat it. I answer her questions honestly, however age appropriate.

Dempsey does have fears that are compounded because I've lost mum, my sister and Savannah, however, I always reinforce that she will grow up and be an old lady.

Because of whats happened, Dempsey is so compassionate, I caught her one day reading the sympathy card section at Vons, which horrified me, but after a discussion, she suggested we buy a card with "For the loss of your Mom" for my twin neices.

I learned in that moment, while death has changed her, it has also made her open to living life and being happy to be here...she has such a huge heart because of what we've been through as a family.

I love the idea of teaching our children about religion, if for nothing else to give them that crutch you spoke of cos when you are at the depths of despair...you do pray...and I want Demspey to have that tool one day if she needs it.

Love this post and love the way you dealt with Lainey...even if she hasnt been touched by death, by informing our precious ones, no matter how small, it teaches them to appreciate life and others.

Thinking of you and that growing belly! :)

with love from down under
Diana x

Tunde Bagwell said...

Three weeks ago my boyfriend broke up with me. it all started when i Travel to UK to spend my holiday with my friend,i was trying to contact him but it was not going through. So when i came back from UK i saw him with a lady kissing, i was frustrated and it gives me sleepless night. I called my friend told her what happened and she introduce me to a spell cater who helped her long time ago. Which i contact him and i never believed that the spell will work so easily because i have contacted many spell casters to get him back all they do is to take my money with no result. I am happy to tell you all that my boyfriend is back and committed to me alone and he do whatever i ask him to do with love and care. All thanks to Esango Priest the great magician who helped me to restore my boy friend to me:You can reach him via email esangopriest@gmail.com

Lavinia said...

What a topic! I was not so scaried of death ad I was a child, but when I was 12 a class mate told me that, when he was at the stadium, he heard some people talking about Down Syndrome, and they were telling that people with Down Syndrome would die in Their fourties. I was schocked. At the end of school day I run home crying, asking my dad if that was possibly true that my brother would die so soon! He told me that no, 40 years old is way too soon, that with modern medicine they can live longer and a healthier life. I was relieved. In the following days I thought a lot about it, I remember! You did a good job speaking to Lainey like this, and I do hope that she will never meet a class mate that will tell her something so cruel about Nella! Lots of love to everyone from Lavinia, Italy.

Tunde Bagwell said...

Three weeks ago my boyfriend broke up with me. it all started when i Travel to UK to spend my holiday with my friend,i was trying to contact him but it was not going through. So when i came back from UK i saw him with a lady kissing, i was frustrated and it gives me sleepless night. I called my friend told her what happened and she introduce me to a spell cater who helped her long time ago. Which i contact him and i never believed that the spell will work so easily because i have contacted many spell casters to get him back all they do is to take my money with no result. I am happy to tell you all that my boyfriend is back and committed to me alone and he do whatever i ask him to do with love and care. All thanks to Esango Priest the great magician who helped me to restore my boy friend to me:You can reach him via email esangopriest@gmail.com

baslafritta said...

Hi kelle! I'm Francesca and i'm a reader from italy.
I've never left a comment before because of my english.
This time I feel I need to do that.
I' m the proud Mother of two kids:
Andrea, he is 5 now..my little man and Giulia.
She is our angel.
She passed away after 20 day she born.
She had sdd and we faced the situation When she born, same history ad you.
When I read the post about Nella bday I cried a lot cause it was the same feelings.
I understand you in every single words you wrote.
I could write exactly the same post you did.
I saw your photos about nella bday and in your eyes I can see same feelings as yours.
I feel so connected with you for that reason.
Anyway my story took a different way: Gulia had a lot of health problem and she died.
Andrea met her When she was in the hospital in her incubator .
Andrea said "she was too cool cause she was in a plastic box like a little fish.."
Oh you probably understand how much I cried..
Yes she was so cool.
Them she died.
Andrea can not accept that.
She was his little sister.
"How can we die so young?I don't wanna die, I dont want to be alone..are you gonna die?"he said to me many times.
Sometime he looks At the sky and talks to Giulia "you e been so naugthy.. You died and i didn't want that.. Now I m alone.. Please come down!!don't ride stars, I ve got a bike... It is mine and i coul give to u!"
Well it is hard to face that Giulia had a down syndrome, that had many health problems and nobody understood that, that Andrea loves her so much but he is alone now.
He is scared to be sick and When me or his daddy we don't feel good we pretend to be well otherwise andrea cries .
I tried to speack about death same way as you.
I like the phrase you wrote "tell them that everything is gonna ne okay"
I think the best thing to do When something so sad happens is to Let them understand that death is part of life, you could be' sad,but then we as a parent have to change the subject.
I want to Let gin understand that death can happen, but i don t want to explain it totally.
Life and his future experiences will explain to him.
So I m completely agree with you and brett.
Thank you for sharing your emotions cause it makes me feel not alone and stronger for my self and my family.
Your blog is too precious for me cause it reminds me my little angel and how fantastic, hard, plenty could be my life with her.
Thank you from my heart.
Francesca from Rome
Ps sorry again for my english, sorry if I wrote too much...

blackhuff said...

I too have been on the end of this particular discussion from both my children. They were so afraid that we will die and leave them alone. You handled it very good.

stacy said...

Beautiful post and so hard too. My 10 year has a dear friend who is very sick. There have been tears and questions. "It's not fair." "I now it's not fair."
"Why?" "I don't know why?" I think the one thing that brings us comfort is my strong belief that something good, peaceful, and beautiful waits for us when we leave this earth. We talk about that a lot.

Claire said...

Beautiful, Kelle.

Kris said...

*tears* I think you handled this so well. Parenting is hard....and sometimes we really don't know how to respond to your kids fears and hard questions. My son ( Ben) had a fish that he hardly noticed each day....the day it died, he took the news pretty well when I first told him. 10 minutes later he was a hot mess. Took me by surprise. But at 5 yrs old...it all hit him I suppose and it was hard for him. A year later, he still talks about his fish...more now than when it was living. :) I find that school and new friends brings out SO many new and hard questions...it's just the beginning. I think we're both doing ok. :)
xo
Kris

Sanna said...

Kelle, do you know the "Brothers Lionheart" by Astrid Lindgren? I loved this book when I was a child (I think, I first read it at 6 or 7 years - it was beyond exciting, all with dragons and such, but it was great)
It is about of afterlife, without bonding to a specific faith or even a concept of god for that matter.
She wrote many more tales that are about the topics of sickness and death, some of them heartwrenching, but none without hope. There's always hope in death in her tales, it frees the sick of their sickness.
Maybe have a look in that book. I think, it can take away too scary fear of death in a way that fits very well into the magical world of childhood.
I experienced death for the first time at about Laney's age: my grandpa died when I was 4, my then 21-years-old uncle died when I was 5. In the first year when I was in school (at 6), the mother of a classmate commited suicide. When I was 7, my great grandmother died. Of course, it was a big topic for me then, but all those faithful people around me together with good children's literature about that topic managed that I didn't fear it too much in my childhood. As you said, death is scary at all ages, but it needn't scare the heck out of you, not even when you're five.
Good luck!

Leah said...

I think you handled it perfectly, Kelle. :) Wonderful words of wisdom.

Sophie said...

Hey Kelle, Great post. We had a similar thing with our daughter. She was asking my husband about real Princesses and he mentioned Princess Diana, which then lead on to death. She was like Lainey, really upset at the concept. We have got through the fear by sharing the concept that the part of her that is 'really her' will never die, and the part of me that is 'really me' will never die and that our hearts will always be connected. This has really helped her and I do truly believe it too, so its good! Xxx

Liz said...

Beautiful post. As always, I am inspired by you and your sweet family.
hugs from North Georgia :)

My Secret Rooms said...

I find it a challenge in another way, handling the fear-issue.
My firstborn child, who is now 21 years old, lived through very difficult hardships and faced a whole lot of fear during his whole childhood and youth.
He and I therefore talked so much about this and had to find ways of handling it.
My second born is 7 years old and has a problem-free life in the sense of a "perfect" family, no illnesses or any other worries of any kind.

The 21 year old, knows to appreciate a life when things are not scary, when life is free and happy. The little one knows nothing else than carefree days.
How can I get the small one to understand the joys that he is given, when there were never any hardships?
I guess I can't. Maybe he doesn't need the comparison in order to be a human being in this world?
And maybe my 21 year old will always enjoy the rest of his days a little bit more, thanks to the comparison?

This I'll never know. But I think about it.

Thank you dearst, sweetest Kelle for yet another wonderful post! <3

Hillery said...

When I found out I was pregnant with our third baby, our older kids were 4 and 6. We waited a few days and then excitedly told them the news! Only a couple of weeks later, we experienced a miscarriage. The kids knew I was sick and asked what was wrong. I told them that our baby was gone to heaven. The four year old didn't think much about it, but our 6 year old did. We talked about death and the hope of heaven where there is no pain or sickness or sadness, just love. It was the beginning of a lifelong conversation. It comforts me to know that our little one is in heaven with other family that has died and is not alone.

Jill said...

Hi Kelle, I'm an avid reader of your blog, though I rarely comment - but this post really resonated with me.

I was just like Lainey as a little girl. I remember lying awake at night, wheels turning, trying not to cry as I let the fear of death overcome me. At that time, I spent most of my worries on my grandma, and sometimes my parents. I was so very, very afraid of losing the people I loved.

As I grew older, I counted my blessings and considered myself one of the "lucky ones" - aside from a few great-aunts and -uncles, death seemed to avoid me and my family. Even so, it was still something I feared greatly, despite my faith.

The summer I turned 28, I lost two of my cousins, suddenly and tragically, only two weeks apart. The following spring, that beloved grandmother that I'd worried so much about, passed away after a long and wonderful life, at age 95. This past winter, I lost my dad and two uncles within a month's time.

And you know what? Despite the tragic few years that my family has faced - all of the sadness and loss - well, I can honestly tell you the fear is pretty much gone. I've dealt with grief, and I feel so much stronger than I did two years ago.

We all have to deal with it at some point - some far too soon... But we survive. We grieve, and we move on. I only wish I could tell my little five-year-old self this; to stop worrying, because it's all going to be OK, even when the worst things happen.

I know that you and your husband will do your best to ease her fears; but trust that someday, she will get it. It might not be now, it might not be for years...but she will be OK with it someday.

Jen said...

I think you are doing a great job of talking to Lainey about death. It's something I've been struggling with myself recently. I'm typing this and holding my 2 month old in my arms, and thinking of a friends baby who is in the hospital waiting for a heart transplant, and it's very touch and go right now. Since I've had my baby, there's a night every once in awhile where I am just terrified that she will get sick or stop breathing. Those nights I wake up every hour to check on her. Reading your post reminded me that eventually I'm going to have to talk to her about death, and I hope I'm prepared for it. I really like what you said about being truthful but not talking to them like they are adults, because their not.
I have to tell you, I love your blog - there were times while I was pregnant that I was very sad that we were going to be giving up our life of just my husband and I (even though this baby was planned and wanted, I just thought that I would miss our old life!). When I felt like that I would read your blog, and realize how much fun I could have with my baby, and how much love would be added to our home. Some days I can't even handle how much I love our daughter and how excited I am to spend the day with her! Thanks for giving me a preview of that before she was born :) I know this got off topic, but I was just talking about this to my sister last night and thought you should know!

Michelle said...

9/11 and the start of the war in Iraq saw my husband's unit called up several times, and our kids were only 5 and 7. I am a firm believer in not lying to the kids, only giving enough basic information to answer their question, but when they came to me when their Dad was deployed to war, and asked me what would happen if Dad died, I lied. I said that wouldn't happen. He would be safe, and home before they knew it. They kept asking "but what if?" until I finally took a deep breath and answered them. I said we'd be okay if Dad died, very sad and we'd cry a lot, but we'd be okay. I reminded them of something I never really talked about with them, because I didn't want them to worry over death like I did as a kid, but I did then. My Dad died when I was 4 and my sister was 2, and we miss him, and sometimes still get sad, but we grew up okay.

Turns out, that was all they wanted to hear, a reassurance that if something bad did happen, things would be okay.

I think I still lied. Okay isn't really how I'd describe how my sister and I grew up, but since my kids could see us as normal, functioning grown ups, who lived what was a very scary idea and survived, they were accepted it and went off to write love notes to their Dad.

Lesliek0211 said...

Kelle - You will be so thankful that you talked to her like you did. My girls are 6 and 2 and have had to deal with two deaths in the last year, one of their grandma and also a dear great-aunt. It was so difficult, and they have so many questions, but you are right that there is a fine line on telling them the truth and being sensitive to the fact that they can't understand it in the way we do. I have incredibly death anxiety, and I am 28, so I understand Brett's concerns as well. As always, another very insightful post.

Sarah said...

Death is such a difficult topic because we all process it and grieve it differently.

My daughter was 3 when her Grandma passed away. Grandma had requested to allow children in the room and so my daughter giggled and danced around the room as she was literally taking her last breath's. She did not seem the slightest bit distracted by the experience.

Two years later she still talks about her on a very consistent and regular basis. We've always explained that she went to heaven (in the clouds) and she is always with us in our heart and spirit and how up there, everything is perfect with no pain, sadness, worry, illness etc.

All of the sudden one day she made the connection to "could her friends die or could mommy and daddy die". My heart paced to answer this correctly.

In my core I have near allergic reactions to lying and falsifying reality but at the same time she is 5. My husbands father fought cancer for 15 years and all of them were deeply taught (out of faith) that he would never die. If they prayed hard enough, he would live. The day that he did pass(my husband was 19)none of them could deal with it because it was engrained that "it" would never happen. Still to this day if I try to discuss what our plans would be for the "what if" and my hubby can't even go there.

As you can see, we have different history's and ways of coping. He can submerge it and that is his mechanism of coping and I have to talk to cope. I had 5 fellow class mate death's in my senior year of high school. Death was very real for me.

So - I answered my daughter and said "yes, one of us could die. But death is only by our physical bodies not by our spirit." Which lead to a few tears and a lot of questions about spirit. Where is it? Can I see it? Etc.

Somehow, (as my hubby examined my every little word and gave me the doubting look) I managed to answer it in a way to calm her worry yet fulfill her curiosity. "The spirit of Grandma are all of the memories, giggles, stories, the times that you think of her, see her in the clouds, and sometimes even hear her voice and words even though you can't see her. It's the energy that fills your heart and mind and gives your body goose bumps. Grandma is always there and she always loves you. Right now we have Grandma in heaven but no matter who it is that goes to heaven - whether it be mommy, daddy or friends - they will always be with you in spirit."

And that was it! No crying. Her reply was "I always knew that." :)

It is a very difficult topic to answer "correctly" but you have to follow your heart.

2busy said...

The things we don't understand are always scary. I've found that religion has helped ease those fears. It creates hope and peace. What a sweet mom you are...wrapping her in the cocoon of your love seemed to do the trick.

Tee said...

Whether is a fear of living or dying, flying or boating, highs or lows....it is said ( I have not counted them personally, but it is on my To Do List ) that in the Bible, the Lord tells us 366 times to not be afraid. With 365 days in a year.....I think He covered all the bases. There is no reason to be afraid. He's got us covered.

Mummy Daddy and Me makes Three said...

Being a hormonal pregnant lady this post made me cry. I too remember finding it such a strange concept growing up, and to a point I still do. The fear is always there, even now with a little girl of my own.

You sound like you said the right conversation.

xxx

Katie
www.mummydaddyandmemakesthree.co.uk

Jessica said...

This post is so well put. I have a 4 1/2 year old who is starting to ask some difficult life questions and I can't believe how hard it is to answer them. They aren't even as serious yet as death, I need to figure out how I'll answer that one! Its tough when they're little kids and we want to protect them but prepare them from the bad. You do such an amazing job.

fillthewell said...

Heart-wrenching, but beautiful response, Kelle.

Jill said...

what beautiful words. My sweet sister lost her life in a car accident a couple of weeks ago and we have dealt with how to explain to her little 6 year old son that she was in Heaven now. He only can accept things in bits and pieces. It is a hard concept for me to accept and their little hearts seem to be more understanding than we realize.

MaRea Hess said...

My 6 year old has become interested in death lately. I addressed death more as a celebration and is the natural process of life. I believe a loving God has a plan for each of use and the plan is for Families to be together forever, not just during this life time. We will have the opportunity to be reunited with our loved ones. I teach my son this Earth life is just the beginning of forever.

Brooke said...

I learned about death when I was five. My parents had gotten me a kitten as an early Christmas present. The kitten turned out to be fatally ill (my mom allowed the vet to do a necropsy in hopes of helping the next sick kitten that vet saw. Sadly, the vet still never discovered what exactly was wrong with that poor little kitten).

I don't remember how my parents explained it to me - though I know it was with tears and honesty - but I do remember saying goodbye at the vet's office and knowing - KNOWING - somehow what death meant. The finality of it.

I cried and cried and cried. I couldn't sleep for crying (wow, still brings tears to my thirty-three year old eyes!). My dad, who, not being a "cat person", wasn't thrilled about the first cat, informed my mom that we were going to go to the SPCA to adopt a kitten the very next morning.

That morning was Christmas Eve, and we came home with a healthy, happy kitten, and a little girl whose heart had begun to heal, because of a pretty awesome daddy. :)

Being five years old though, I had a few irrational fears with my second cat. I cried when I left him for school in the morning, and the worst was when he had to get neutered. I was TERRIFIED about leaving him at the vet's office. For awhile that place meant only bad things and death.

But eventually I stopped worrying, and I didn't dwell on the subject of death, even though I missed that kitten for a long time afterwards.

Ellen said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Andrea said...

I love how you handled lainey's questions. I nodded along with your post, agreeing with every word. I think you need to always answer a child's questions with honesty whilst keeping your answers age-relevant. I love how my son (nearly 5) goes away and processes the information I've given him and a few days/weeks later will come back and ask another question about it. Sometime that makes me realise I haven't explained something clearly but at other times I realise I've got it spot on. We've had lots of death questions and hopefully have managed to cover the topic without terrifying him. Last year my daughter was in and out of hospital and so we had to be careful about saying she was "really sick" and that people only die if they're "really sick".....it's definitely a tricky one!

Andrea x

Michelle said...

Such a lovely and caring mama... thank you always for sharing.

Carrie said...

Have you heard of the book Lifetimes: A Beautiful Way to Explain Death by Bryan Mellonie and Robert Ingpen?
It is a very difficult concept and I think you explained it well. I was brought up in a very religious household and I am currently a non-believer. However, I do believe children need "fairy tales" such as everything will be alright when they are very young, I believe it helps them immensely to believe that the world is good in their young childhood. They will learn the truth soon enough, childhood should be worry free if possible.

Ginny said...

My in-laws had to provide the introductory lesson to my daughter (then 3 yrs old, now 4) when a cat was struck by a car as they were taking her to daycare. She seemed to handle it well. As far as adults, I don't think she completely understands. She has asked her grandparents about their parents and where they are. We tell her they are in Heaven and she, for now, seems content with that information. I do worry about having to teach her much more far too early for my comfort.

AER said...

I am what one author described as a motherless-mother. My mom died from cancer (note small c versus the big C because I hate it that much I don't want to hype it with a big C) in 2011. My children were nearly 4 and 1. I had been gone sporadically for weeks on end for a span of 4 months. The news came in April and she was gone by August. I wish there had been a book or post during that time, that had helped me help my girls. They grieved and saw me grieve. A lot. I cannot even remember what I exactly told my older daughter. But she visited her in the Hospice home (big H for Hospice because they were a life jacket for my family) and got to say goodbye. I do remember telling her and continue to tell her that Grandma was living with God. About 4 months ago out of the blue, she asked me when Grandma was coming home and that she didn't want her in heaven any more. There is no wrong or right way to talk to your kids about this. You did a good job.

Mandy said...

This is such a difficult topic. My husband and I lost our first daughter almost two years ago to a congenital heart defect at 7 weeks of age. We actually had to make a decision with our doctors' input to take her off life support when it was apparent she would not pull through. For myself, I don't think I could have made that decision without the hope of a heaven and chance to see her again someday. Now, we are in the process of preparing to adopt, and I am faced with the decision of how to tell my future children about their sister who is in heaven. It's so hard to know how to do this in an age appropriate way. Thank you for sharing your thoughts.

Sydney said...

I think it's definitely something to keep light and not go too deep with, except if you really are dying. My sister's husband was married before and his wife died of colon cancer. She kept telling her boys she wasn't going to die and they were devastated when she did, partly because she reassured them that she wouldn't. I don't know the answer on that one but I really felt sorry for them. They were only ten and twelve. They're adults now and seem to be okay but poor guys went through so much as kids, I felt so bad for them.

Audrey's mom said...

Oh ... I have a funny story...

my sweet, 9 year-old son was riding with some of my friends (adults and children) in the car. He was terminally ill at the time, but he didn't wasn't aware of it, due to his developmental issues. All of us had been talking, and he turned to me (in his special-needs voice) and said, "What is death?" I froze, knowing that death was around the corner for him, probably in a few months, and yet wondering why he would ask this, because we hadn't told him that he would be dying. I started in, saying, "Death is when you leave your body and go to be with Jesus in a perfect place, where there is no more pain or unhappiness. You are still alive, but not in your body anymore." (I love the description that you ARE a soul, but you HAVE a body).

We sat in silence for a minute, and my friend turned to him and said, "Peter, did you say, what is Deaf?"

"Yes, what is Deaf?"

"Deaf is when you can't hear."

"Oh."

Classic parental over-analysis.

Elleah said...

My Grandma died a year ago, so my 4-year-old naturally wanted to know where she went. I told her that great-Grandma is in heaven now, focusing on that part of it and not on the "dead" part of it because really, she is alive in heaven. For now, that's what she knows and we're good with that.

R.J. said...

Oh, I so understand. Questions about your mom's (terminal) illness from your 3 year old during your visit to meet your newborn niece... "But she will get better, right?" and finding the appropriate truthful, age-level, hopeful approach.. this mama work is wildly hard and wonderful.

Appreciate your thoughts and honesty.

The Korporaal Family said...

A well-written post! Glad you don't agree with telling her a 'little white lie' to comfort her because if the unthinkable would happen, I truly hope not, and she would lose someone close to her, then she won't just be afraid of death but then she will also always fear if you are telling her the truth...

Lindsay Marie said...

You're an amazing mom! I don't have children right now, but when the time comes, I know that God will guide my response.

B. Holmes said...

We went throught his with our son in 1st grade. A classmate told him "we all get old and die." It really worried him and would keep him awake at night for quite some time, we talked about it and tried to put his fears at ease. He got over it at some point and life cycles come up in convos now, he's a 3rd grader, but he dosn't seem to dwell on it anymore. Tough subject...

Tammie said...

Kelle, This is one of the hard parts to being a Mom,You did awesome but it will come up again. It seems like their little minds have a hard time shutting down and going to sleep. Everything that goes through their brain seems like at night it needs to be settled or talked about before they can sleep. Bless her Heart. She is getting so big and Beautiful.

Cory said...

I would not know how to broach this subject without my faith and God being at the start of it all. "The Lord giveth, and the Lord taketh away, blessed be the name of the Lord." There is a season for everything in life, and I think an honest approach is best. You said wonderful things, and true things. Sometimes bad things do happen, but if we seek the Lord in all we do, and always stay close to Him, we can rest assured that when we die we will still be resting in the Lord. The glory of heaven, and to know that if we pass away, He is the next face we see, to me that is reassuring, and has been to my children as well, although we are clear that we do not seek death ourselves.

Heather said...

My 5 year old was stuck on death for a few months. Every night, I'd hear her call out, after being tucked in. "mama? It makes me sad to think of dyeing" followed by wracking sobs. We tried so many comforting approaches. Then, one day, a neighbor gifted her with a small wooden box with 2 tiny worry dolls on the outside. I told her she can give her worries to the dolls by whispering them into the box, before sleep. For some reason, turning her fear over without talking about it anymore proved to be such a relief. I've even found her whispering into her box, which she keeps under her pillow, other times of the day. for what it's worth!

pakosta said...

that's great that she can voice her concerns and fears at such a young age!
My husband was just diagnosed with a grade 4 astrocytoma brain tumor and I have had to have some very adult conversations that I would rather not be having with my two girls, ages 11 & 12. Actually you saw their picture, in a note I sent with the book I sent to you to sign and I asked you to sign the book out to my two girls, Savannah and Ava....they love reading your blog and seeing the pictures of your girls. LIfe is so hard sometimes and you never know what is going to come your way. I think it's great that you alleviated her worries, you can tell she's a thinker and a worrier already at such a young age, it's great your parenting balances each other so nicely.
great job mama!
xoxo
tara

Marti Messner Family said...

We have been going through this too. My 5 year old daughter has gone to over 6 funerals. She has had grand-parents, two aunts, a close older family friend and a 2 year old niece die. She seemed to associated death with people who are older and has told me to stop having birthdays so I don't get old. But then she just seemed to remember the 2 year old and has been asking "How" she died. She didn't mean the actual how but more how could she die when she was so young. It was really hard to not lie and keep it in kid terms. This has been a very hard topic for me since it scares me and I don't want her to be scared. But death has been so real to her. She also collects garbage (like taking things out of the garbage) and I think it has to do with death. Another friend said her child started doing the same thing after her grandma died. I have been thinking I need to get her into counseling but maybe I am doing something right :-) since many comments are doing the same thing.

Bethany Sines said...

Boy, kelle, you sure have a way with words. I can't help but think what a wonderful school teacher you must have been with your gift of articulation. What I mean is, I bet you were able to deal with all the crazy, hovering, protective parents that came in to talk to you with grace and understanding.

Carin Cullen said...

Kelly, you handled this wonderfully. And thank you for writing a post on this. I had to deal with death from an early age. My grandmother died when I was 5. My first real memory is of standing on my neighbours' front steps bawling my eyes out because I wasn't allowed to go to her funeral. It has haunted me ever since. So when my father-in-law passed away earlier this year there was no doubt in our mind my daughter should be a part of his funeral if she wanted to. She did. She even went up and touched his forehead at the wake (totally her own doing). I don't think she could have handled this so well if she wasn't prepared though. I nearly passed away about 18 months ago. That flung us into talking about it. It is so much easier though if these questions are dealt with slowly and intuitively, not because they have been thrust upon you.

Kate Eschbach said...

Great job, Kelle. Hang in there. You handled this beautifully.

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amysaurus said...

you have such a beautiful heart & there's not a doubt in my mind that YOU are the one called to teach lainey & nella & baby boy about all the big things by enjoying the small thngs... i'm not a parent yet but i am a leader & mentor for kids with special needs and i have been in this position where kids come to me with hard questions & while i am a fierce protector of their innocence, i also wanting to equip them with truth... my approach has been to turn these questions into conversations - sharing thoughts & ideas - instead of me giving "the answer" (cause honestly i usually don;t have one!)... and one thing that i always always turn to is NATURE - our environment - and use it as a teaching tool... i believe that God set it up that way... He knew that some stuff is just to big & deep for us to get, so he gave us nature, physical stuff, to look at & study & help us get a glimpse of the answers to some of our big questions... so keep it up! keep dialoging... and taking in every little gift & moment around us that is really about so much more!! grace....

Michelle said...

Such a tough topic. I've had to discuss this same topic with my daughter, made so much worse by the fact that she has cancer. And she's seven..old enough to get it. Never easy, because at 34 I'm still scared about it.

Brandi said...

My husband died 19 months ago after a very long illness. It was 2 months before our daughters 4th birthday. She's 5 now, just like Lainey, and doing well. The topic of death is something we discussed often before and after his death. I want to commend you on a job well done. Let her guide you. Be honest but age appropriate and mostly love her with all you've got, just like you always have.
Good job Mama. Good job.

Dylan'sMommy316 said...

Very nicely put. I've always wondered how to approach this topic when it comes up (eventually). Now I have an idea of how to do that.

danielrayne101 said...

Kelle,

This a very hard subject to talk about with you children. On September 13th, I had a heart attack just 9 days after my 29th birhday. My son who is also 5 has had a really hard time with this.
One night while cuddling together hae asked me what happened. In my family we are very honest with our kids, so I told him. When then talked about all of the appointments and medication that mommy has to take. And I told him that mommy takes the medicine and goes to all of my appointments so I can get better. He then looks up at me with tears in his eyes and says "Mommy I dont want you to die". Of course this made me cry too and I held him and told him that mommy doesn't want to die and that's why mommy is doing everything the doctors told me.

That talk was my slap in the face, my you need to start living your life right. For my family it works best to just be open and honest.

Thank you Kelle for sharing your life and family with us.

won said...

The worst conversation about this was having to tell my eleven year old daughter that she was the one who was going to die.

Man...those words don't seem like they should be in the same sentence, do they?

I STILL can't wrap my mind around it. All I know is everything can and did (for us) change in about .5 seconds. Now, the anger, loneliness and deep sadness are just too much to bear each day.

Jennifer said...

I too had a deep fear of death as a child. I still do at 43. My daughter is 14 and we never went through this. We are Christians and I believe our faith and taking her to funerals exposed her to life's rituals. My granny died when my daughter was 6. My granny was 103, so she led a full and happy life. I have had 11 people die in the past 4 years. Friends and family. My daughter went to most of those funerals. And the causes of death ranged from suicide, cancer, old age, poor health.... We will have funeral #12 in 4 years this fall. My niece is pregnant with her third child and her name is Lainie Catherine and she has anencephaly. It is cruel and I have cried almost every day for this future great niece of mine that will die. My family is preparing as best as we can. She is due to be born days before Christmas. My heart is heavy with sorrow, but I have to believe there is a silver lining somewhere.

Ann-Marie Cardew said...

Well written Kelle!
There's a beautiful book by Leo Buscaglia called "The fall of Freddie the Leaf". It's a wonderful story that explains death and dying very simply...it was even read at my Opa's funeral.

Glenda Quiring said...

what a big question for a little girl.
you are a good mummy and care so deeply for your little ones.
i was in the living room in our tiny home when i was five and my grama was reading to me.
she told me that she wanted to rest awhile and read her Bible and then with out warning she had a stroke and died on the way to the hospital and it was hard on me.
my faith in Jesus and in Bible verses assure me that death is a sleep until Jesus returns to take us to Heaven to live with Him. it is very sad for us to live with out our family members and loved ones but it is so reassuring to know death is not hard for those who die having to watch their families mourn for them so. Matthew 27:52-53
New King James Version (NKJV)
52 and the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised; 53 and coming out of the graves after His resurrection, they went into the holy city and appeared to many.

this never made me afraid to go to sleep as somehow even at 5 i knew the difference between going to bed at night and dying.
my granddad who also had lived with us had cancer and died about a year and a half before this and i did not understand things then at all... i did not know why my parents were crying... that might have frightened me more then my granddad dying. but by the time my grama died i was 5 and a half and my thinking had changed a lot.