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Monday, 22 October 2007


Eden (six) has recently been asking some awkward questions again about death and dying. Maybe it was a near accident with a speeding car that brought it on; maybe it's just the fact that her older, more streetwise friend, Jasmine, has been feeding her fertile mind with ghoulish stories in the playground (I think the question, "Will I come alive again as an animal after I die?" followed quickly by, "I don't WANT to come back as an animal!!! I LIKE being me!" might have heralded from one such playground conversation). Whatever the cause, and as much as I've thought about it, I really do think that this discussion is one of the toughest any parent faces. It's coming home to moments like these that really puts some perspective on my day. Problems at work evaporate into thin air in an instant. There are just no easy answers, and suddenly, the sense that one is 'managing quite well, all things considered' as a parent, disintegrates. Even if you are religious and believe in an afterlife, this assurance doesn't always work for children. Eden has heard about Heaven but she doesn't like the sound of it. "And before you say anything, Mummy," she announced to me when the subject last came up, "I don't want to go to Heaven, either. I don't LIKE Heaven. I like it here, in our house!!"And I don't think beginning to read Roald Dahl's "James and the Giant Peach" tonight was the greatest idea, either. Especially when James's parents are eaten by a marauding rhinoceros in the streets of London on Page One. (Why, oh why, had I forgotten that *quite* memorable detail??!) So, how to make death seem far off and trivial and unfrightening without lying? Answers on a postcard please to Traumatised Mummy.

1 comment:

Kate said...

You could try asking her what she thinks happens after we die. When my grandmother died, my daughter asked all sorts of questions, but suddenly said, "I know what happens," and drew me a complete map of what she said were the seven afterlife levels- she said my grandmother was 'about here'- and the way it is all set up. It was a bit eerie, but she seemed to find her own ideas on the subject far more comforting than mine!