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Comforting words about death for a troubled 6yo

(7 Posts)
fadingfast Sat 18-Jun-11 22:27:16

Ds (6.5) has recently become very anxious about the idea of death. It all started around Easter when they seem to have, alarmingly, learnt about the crucifixion at school. We have had awful problems for the past couple of months with him not sleeping at night, which seems at last to have started to improve, but he still seems very worried by the whole idea and is periodically asking very difficult questions. For example, tonight he asked whether when you were dead, if someone opened your eyes for you, you could still see. I am finding it very difficult to find the right words to reassure him, not least because I find the idea of death pretty scary myself. We are not religious and if feels wrong to talk about 'heaven' and rebirth when I don't believe in it myself. His fears appear to be more about him dying than anyone else.

Most of the books I have heard of seem to be aimed at dealing with a family member who has died, which is not something he has experienced yet.

Any idea about how I can tackle this? So far I have just stuck to the line that most people are very old when they die.

lechatnoir Sun 19-Jun-11 21:19:25

I would try & keep emotion out of it and stay very matter of fact - worked with my Ds who is 5.5 and he had a similar obsession also after the Easter story hmm. I suspect he can sense your anxiety about his questions and death in general so the more factual you are the better & a bit of science doesn't go amiss IMO.

I also found using analogies seemed to help make sense without being scary - eg when my DS asked me "if you're very old & just die, do you bleed?" I said no, everything just stops working a bit like when batteries run out except you can't replace them in a body . And similar to your DS, mine asked if dead people can hear us talking & I said no because once you've died your body is just the empty shell leftover a bit like when a snail leaves his shell. We then told his a bit about brains (& ended up on google looking at them wink) & how without your brain working you can't see or hear or think etc. Not sure if this helps but worked for us but then this is our opinion anyway & whilst I fear what I would leave behind, I don't find the physical act of dying a scary one (IYKWIM)

Of course if you're religious your answers will be very different grin

fadingfast Sun 19-Jun-11 22:25:46

Thanks very much lechatnoir. Yes, I am sure he has picked up on our anxiety, not least because we were at our wits end over the whole sleeping issue (until now he has always slept well) and we were frightened of saying the wrong thing for fear of making it worse. We have got a few books about how the body works, so he does have a basic understanding of some of the biological facts. He just seems so frightened about it all, and it's as though a part of his childhood innocence has gone sad. His favourite bit of the Easter story was the resurrection and he seems to have latched on to that as a possibility, and we've just said that it is something a lot of people believe.

chocoholic Sun 19-Jun-11 22:30:13

We are not religious. We have always said that our dead relatives are with the angels and that they look after them. Something quite gentle and loving about it and it seems to keep DS (5) happy.

MovingAndScared Tue 21-Jun-11 14:48:29

my DS was really worried about death - and what comforted him was people going to heaven - also not regilious at all - but I told him some people believe this and he said yes thats what happens
also saying you are normally old when you die that seemed to help
oh and answering the question but not getting in a long drawn out debate -especially at bedtime seemed to help

fadingfast Wed 22-Jun-11 20:04:05

Thank you. I have said that a lot of people believe in heaven, although can't quite bring myself to say that they DO go to heaven with the angels (although I suppose in the long term it would't really matter?). When I said that most people don't die until they are REALLY old, he said "yes Mummy, but I am nearly 7!" grin

Istillfeelseventeen Thu 23-Jun-11 10:51:50

Well this may all sound a bit strange but having lost both my parents, the idea comforts me hugely and this is what I tell my children in a really positive, "isn't this brilliant?",happy voice ..... Your body is just your clothes for life, it is so unimportant, it's not the PERSON. The PERSON is the soul, the energy, the lifeforce. So when my father died, i told my boys that the energy he had had in life hadn't gone anywhere, how could it have done?, and was still here around us and always would be. He would always be with them.

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