Friday, March 13, 2015

When Preschoolers Learn About Death

Two nights ago, my three year old burst into tears and hugged me. "I don't want you to die," she said, "I don't want you to die." I can't remember what prompted it because I was so shocked that she had come to the realization that I'll die. We hadn't been reading a story including death, or watching a movie including death. Letting her watch Big Hero 6 last week didn't help, I'm sure.

But she said it again last night. I was standing on a chair, trying to reach something up high, and she said, "Be careful Mommy. I don't want you to get hurt because I don't want you to die." She wasn't crying the way she had been the night before, but she was serious.

"What's making you think about me dying?" I asked. "You talked about not wanting me to die yesterday, and now you're talking about it today."

"It's because I don't want you to die."

"I'm not going to die any time soon."

This morning, my husband and I talked about it. I asked him if she'd said anything to him about D-E-A-T-H. He said she had, and that he told her he wasn't going to die for a very long time.

"But why is she thinking about it right now?"

My husband thinks it's because we're nearing Easter, and while Easter is about resurrection, it's also about death. You can't have the resurrection without the crucifixion. It just doesn't work that way.

I try to make sense of this moment, of the the lessons we taught her that led to this. Look both ways when you cross the street. Don't talk to strangers. There is danger in the world. God gave you Mommy and Daddy to keep you safe.

Children have to learn about death. I know. But that doesn't lessen the pain of seeing your child suffering with the idea of losing you.

Your own experiences?

1 comment:

  1. We have frequent conversations about these subjects at "What Do I Say?", a group that is focused exclusively on answering children's questions and talking with them about complicated subjects. You might want to check it out!