Family - it's where your story begins.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Talking to kids about death

My cousin's husband died of a heart attack at the age of 50. I found out at work when my mom called and left a message on my voice mail while I was at lunch. She had said, "Call me as soon as you can." I called when I got back to my desk and she told me what had happened. So sad. I waited until I got home to tell my husband. He just didn't know what to say except that Keith was a fun guy and that he really enjoyed the time he spent with him.

At dinner, we say grace. We take turns saying something. Last night J started and he prayed that his team would win the last soccer game (tomorrow). I prayed for my cousin's family and for Jesus to open the door for Keith. Ok... here come the tears again. :( Anyway, Kent was next and he prayed also for Keith's family and then my youngest prayed for a yummy dinner.

During dinner, our conversation was about death and funerals and memorial services. Not your typical dinnertime talk, but it came up and we just kind of went with it. J was confused as to what a funeral was and what a memorial service was. K is only six, so we really had to talk in six-year-old language. I said that a funeral is where a dead person is put in a big box and the box is put in the ground. People stand around the box and say things and then dirt is pile up over the box. The box is buried in the ground. A memorial service is where there is no dead person, no body, no box. People come to remember the person and they can say things that they remember about that person. Kind of sounds too simple, but kids don't really understand if it's too hard.

My husband said that he wanted to be cremated. I said that at first I wanted my body to be buried, but then again, I didn't want worms crawling through my body. Cremation was probably a better plan, but where did I want my ashes? Certainly not in a little box to sit and gather dust on a mantle. Maybe to spread them down in California, a place I remember visiting as a child. My husband said, "Why not Arizona? That's where a lot of your family is." I said I just didn't know. He wants his ashes spread over the islands which are west of where we live.

Anyway, J had said that he went to a place (a building) once where all these dead people were. I looked at him and asked if he meant a mausoleum. He said he didn't know. He then asked what the area is called of a hospital that has all the dead people. I told him that was a morgue.

Meanwhile, my husband started getting gross in his explanation of something else and since it was dinner, I made him stop. We were eating chicken and he was talking about rotting flesh and stuff. Ewww!

Well, that's basically what we talked about at dinner and I don't know if it helped any, but at least we are very open and will talk about pretty much anything with the kids.

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