Talking about Death with Children
It’s not something you typically think about until it happens. Your elderly aunt or parent passes away, or a friend or relative dies in an accident. All too often lately, someone is diagnosed with cancer which adds an element of talking about death, but it usually just becomes “the elephant in the room.” Children should be prepared in a comforting way for death, yours especially.
Years ago, my daughter Sarah, a particularly tender-hearted child, was troubled. I knew it. She was only about six years old and she came to me and said, “Mommy, I’m not ever getting married, I’m going to take care of you when I grow up.” In my motherly wisdom, I said, “Oh, my sweet heart, God has a wonderful plan for your life and one day you will meet a young man, fall in love, and have a family of your own, Mommy will be ok.” She’s in her forties now and has a beautiful family, and, well, she could still take care of me in my old age as life has it. God’s plans are better than our plans for sure.
She had another moment of concern a few years later and although I didn’t know what impression it made on her, she used my response to her concern of my eventual death in a paper she wrote for a class in school. I want to share it, verbatim, as it speaks to a fear many children have; their parents dying.
What am I Afraid of? By Sarah McDonald 11/09/1990
I am afraid of losing my mom. I don’t know why because I know I will see her in Heaven, but it’s just the thought. One night I was trying to sleep, and I just kept thinking of mom dying. My mom was sitting in the kitchen, and I know God let her stay there so she could talk to me, because I looked out my door and she asked what was wrong. I told her I just couldn’t sleep, so I walked in and sat beside her. She asked me again and I told her “I was just wondering what would happen to me if something happened to you?”
I started crying, and she sat me in her lap (she didn’t care how big I was) and she started crying and telling me not to worry about it because everyone dies, but she told me that she and I had no problems because after she dies, and I die we’re going to Heaven. She also told me that if she dies before I do, then when I die, there will be a hole in a cloud, that she made and when I’m going up she will pull me through and take me to Heaven, me and her. She also said if I die before she does then I will make a hole in a cloud, and while she is coming, I will pull her through the cloud and take her to Heaven with me.
We cried the whole time and she told me Jesus would help me to love her while she is here, and when she dies to be happy and remember the hole in the cloud.
I still think about that these days and am still afraid to lose her, but I know when I die or she dies, there will be a little hole in a cloud, where one day me, Mom and Jesus will be together, forever!
Note: Sarah trusted Jesus Christ as her Savior and Lord at an early age. This is the reason we could both be so sure we would go to Heaven. If that were not so, I would have prefaced my “talk” with the Plan of Salvation. If you need help with this, my The Gospel Parade book (illustrated by Sarah) is a great way to lead your children to Christ.