T he other day I was driving with Angel # 2. I can’t remember exactly where we were driving to but I will never forget the conversation we had.
As I was adjusting the volume on the radio, Angel # 2 just blurts out, “Mommy, are you going to die?” I nearly slammed on the brakes. I was speechless. Where was this coming from?
Then I remembered back to the last year my family has had. It’s been a rough one with a LOT of death. First my grandfather passed away, then my dear aunt Mich. As if this wasn’t traumatic enough for the family, my parents dog died as well as my other aunt’s cat. The Angels have been inundated with death.
For some reason, Angel # 2 has been thinking about death a lot lately – or so she tells me. She is very worried that I am going to die.
So how did I handle it?
Well – I really wanted to pretend like she never even asked the question. That’s usually how I handle death. I really don’t deal at all. I figure if I don’t talk about it – then it won’t happen. Duh? I know – dumb approach, but it’s worked for me all my life. UNTIL – I had kids.
This is where your parenting senses kick in. You want to protect the little ones. You really don’t want them to have to deal with death until they are adults. You want to shelter them. Unfortunately, death is apart of life. And, it’s important to have a healthy understanding of death…in other words…you have to talk about it with the kids.
I explained to Angel # 2 that everyone dies eventually. She followed it up with, “But Mommy, I don’t want you to die. I don’t want to die. I want to be with you always.”
You can imagine what came next. Yup – you guessed it. Tears streamed down my cheeks….the Angel’s too. I told her that she has a long road ahead of her and I plan to be there every step of the way.
Even though we are raising our kids in a non-denominational family, I still like to believe there is a heaven. For some reason, I find comfort in this. I once tried to explain the idea of heaven to the Angels. Bad idea! They thought it was a place they could visit (in the flesh). As if it was tangible. They couldn’t get over the idea that heaven is somewhere you visit in your dreams.
I guess that’s the problem with death. It’s so hard to explain – even harder to understand.
I know this is one of the first hard conversation we’ve had but it certainly won’t the last. Time to suck it up and start talking. No use pretending it doesn’t exist. As all parents know, kids don’t let up until you give them an answer.