On Talking About Death, And Why Children Need To Hear About It


We’re the kind of family that talks freely about death. It’s something the hubby and I are intentional about, because we’ve had friends who died young and left behind children who suddenly had to cope with the gaping void left in the wake of that loss.

I’ve also read enough stories to catch a glimpse of how horrible it is for children when their parents die suddenly. So we make it a point to talk to our kids about death, and what could happen, and the promises that go with our faith.

It’s also one reason I blog and post on social media. Digital footprints, for them to trace in the future.

Last Saturday, for some reason, the topic came up again. And I reminded my hubby I wanted to be cremated. Then I added, for our boys’ sake, that I wanted my ashes made into some kind of jewelry they will have to wear forever.

Upon hearing this, they looked at each other, and then the older one grinned at me.

“If I’m in college and I’m not studying, it will start shaking!”

And the younger one added, “And when we do something bad, it will glow!”

And the older one took it further, “With Daddy’s ashes, if I don’t vacuum when I’m supposed to, it will start rumbling. And a sound like the Life360 alert will go off!”

And both boys said, in unison, “And that means Daddy’s home!”

They burst out laughing.

I felt incredible relief. Yes, relief. Let me explain.

Death is never easy. There is pain and suffering at the severance of a treasured relationship, at the loss of a loved one’s physical presence. But death is also inevitable, and does not accommodate anyone’s timetable.

And that’s why I think we parents need to be open about the subject with our children.

Really, no one wants to talk about death or dying. But maybe, in the long run, it is one of the more loving things we could ever do for our children.

Because maybe, since life is so uncertain, there is a need to pass on to our children the assurance there is hope beyond death and there will be strength for those left behind. And that it’s possible to keep going.

Because life, despite the fracture, will still be worth living.

I think my boys have started to grasp this.

And that’s why I felt so relieved.


[Back story: We use the Life360 app. When someone leaves or arrives home, an alert goes off. On those evenings the hubby works late, the boys stay up until they hear it go off. As soon as it does, they switch off their lights, jump into bed, and pretend to be asleep, not knowing their dad was never fooled since he could see their rooms go dark as he parked.]

2 responses »

  1. Oh, but I love this.

    My mom talked openly about death from the time I, her eldest, was little. As my siblings and I grew, she began to talk about her death. There was some sadness in it then, but there’s beauty in it now. I feel my mom with me in every candid conversation I have with my older son now. I feel her as an active, living presence instead of something part.

    And when my son asked about death, I felt her when answering his questions. The connection was intense and beautiful. I’ve seen so little written in blogs that I too wrote about it here, though tearfully instead of with a chuckle as when reading this!

    • Thank you for sharing! Love your story! It encourages me to keep talking about death with my sons. Your mother must have been such a wonderful person, and I am glad you have those memories to guide you. 🙂

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