How to explain things(8 Posts)
I lost my dad when I was 12 (he was much older than was usual, 76) and I'm now 31. I don't have a mum as she married an abuser and stayed with him so I cut off. I have two gorgeous boys who are 1 and nearly 4. The other day my eldest asked where my daddy was "if grandad is daddy's daddy, where is yours?". I explained as best I could, he lost a aunt this year so he knows a bit about death.
All seemed fine until we were walking past a church and they were having a funeral. He asked what was in the box. Again, I was honest, I told him they would put the box in the ground and the body would then become grass, flowers and trees. Although I'm loosely agnostic my husband is an atheist and we'd agreed to keep things as simple as possible.
Again all fine. Until last night. My son then asks if we can go to where my daddy was put in the ground so we can talk to him. I said we could, but he might not hear as he's not really there anymore. He's now started talking about how when his grandad dies, he'll be able to talk to my dad. My husband isn't keen on him thinking there is any afterlife but I don't know how else to explain without traumatising the poor boy!
So.... Any advice? I'll be honest I'm still having issues around the loss of my dad and later abuse and I'm seeing a therapist. It makes it hard to think straight! Hope this is the right place to post....
I think you are handling the subject perfectly for your son's age. Small children don't understand that death is final. I'm atheist too. In your position I would be noncommittal; smile and nod and say yes that would be nice to think of them that way.
I agree with fortified in that I think you are handling the situation really well. At his age your son will be starting to ask all sorts of 'big' questions but he'll probably have forgotten most of your responses by the next day!
I'm atheist too so don't want to fill my daughter's head with beliefs put forward as facts ie religious belief in the afterlife. I don't know what comes after death and I've told her this from a young age.
Young kids are trying to sort out the facts from the magical mysteries of life but with some things, like death, you can only be honest and say that you don't know or if he comes up with his own theories just agree that that might be a possibility.
Please don't agonise over it, it's not worth it. I think that giving your kids a happy, safe and stable environment where they know they are loved and cared about is far more important that answering the 'big' questions. When he's older he can make up his own mind about these things.
Thank you both! It's so difficult to know if you're doing the right thing! When he first discovered my dad was dead he was upset all day, worried his dad would die. He's moved past it onto this new idea about talking to them. I've been saying nobody knows what happens but that would be nice. Feel like I'm failing not having the information (totally irrational, no one has it!).
Thanks again, you've made me feel better about it! Was worrying me!
Glad you feel reassured. Mine's 12 now and about every 3 months of her life something has popped up to make me think 'how the hell do I handle/respond to this fresh hell?'!!!
And there are so many different ways of handling things that are often all right but different to how another parent might respond.
You're doing really well.
I sometimes used to say, well, no one knows what happens and you can make up your own mind about it when you're older. But three things are really clear, that you have no use for your body any longer, that love continues, and I love you and always will no matter what, big hug.
Despite not believing in it myself, I went down the route of saying that dead people went to heaven. I regretted it as my DS latched on to the idea and asked a million questions that I had to navigate - it was difficult but as he got older I changed tack slightly to 'some people believe' and he has now decided that religion is not something he believes in.
I wish I had told him something I read on here, that we should think of before we were born, do we remember that? No we don't, and that is what being dead is like. I think this is a good explanation.
Oh that's a good one! I like the before you were born thing. I'm quite involved with some local organisations that are attached to the church. Thankfully our local church is very relaxed and inclusive. However as some friends are Christian, he's bound to be around it. He's also going to go to a church school (our catchment school). So I'm trying to be straight without confusing him so that when the time comes, we can have the "some people believe..." discussion. Raising children is hard! Thanks again for all your help.
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