Sunday, March 20, 2011

Talking About Death

Beanie usually watches a "night-night show" before bed, usually Kipper or Harold and the Purple Crayon. It gives me a chance to nurse Bubby down for bed and she loves her "night-night show."

One night this last week, I emerged from nursing Bubby down to find that she and Glenn has been discussing death. I wondered when this discussion would come up because one of the Harold episodes involves his pet goldfish dying. Luckily we haven't had to deal with any death here (knock on wood), but, of course, we knew it would come up sometime. Maybe nice to discuss it with a cartoon leading in to it instead of the death of a loved one, I don't know.

After she went to bed Glenn and I talked about it a little more. It's hard to explain death to a three year old. We both said we felt like it'd almost be easier to say, "Oh yes, you die but then you are surrounded by all your family and loved ones and you go to this great place...." But we don't believe that. You die. You live on in people's memories of you and in their hearts, but there isn't any place else for you to go.

I don't know. I don't really have any answers or anything of that nature. We're just trying to keep it age appropriate. I feel like I need to pick up Parenting Beyond Belief and give it another read. I guess I just thought I'd throw it out there and see if anyone had any enlightening ideas for me.


  1. We struggle with this, too. We don't believe in heaven, realistically, but it is such a nice idea we have thrown it out there. Of course, we kind of screwed up because we said the dog went to dog heaven and the cat went to cat heaven and now our girls are sad they won't see them again because girls don't go to cat or dog heaven. Shoot!

  2. Totally! I'd love to hear some ideas, I have a 5 yr old, the issue of religion has come up a few times, but not death... yet. Issue here is she spends lots of time with her grandparents (I'm a single mom working full time) and she is influenced by their religious beliefs. I have tried to give her simple examples that she can understand practically but I'm nowhere near the best approach.

  3. Not to stir up anything, but whatever you teach her now isn't necessarily what she's going to grow up to believe. Look at us - our parents don't believe what their parents do/did, we don't believe what our parents do and, well we don't even believe what each other does. You can teach her what you and Glenn believe now, but keep in mind that what she ends up with may be something entirely different.

  4. @Sissy, we don't want to teach her to believe what we do. Heck, Glenn and I don't necessarily have the same beliefs about everything. We just want to teach her to think critically and come to her own conclusions.

  5. Sparky's first fish died that same day as Hubs' grandma. I'm so glad we had the fish to help describe what happened to grandma! And even though we do believe in heaven, the questions that Sparky has had aren't so much about that but much more about what happened to grandma's (and now grandpa's) body and why they died. There's lots of reassurance that parents and grandparents aren't going anywhere anytime soon. Great grands were very old, they got sick in a way that the rest of us won't etc, etc, etc. If you want to ask Sparky about it sometime to see what she understands, you're welcome to. But really, get a fish if you can! :)

  6. I had the conversation with Zoe a few months ago when we saw police and medics around an unresponsive man on the sidewalk near her school. I explained that dead means your body stops working and you aren't alive anymore. You just stop. Stop moving and stop thinking. I explained that all living things die because bodies get worn out and it's just what happens. She did not like the idea but accepted it.


Thank you for taking the time to comment! I love to hear from you.