Saturday, 12 November 2016

Discussing funerals

I have had another difficult discussion with our eldest daughter this week about funerals. Unfortunately, my husband had a family member pass away recently and he went to attend their funeral. Our big girl asked me what a funeral was, so I told her it was a way of everybody being able to say goodbye to someone after they had died. I told her truthfully that the boost is put in a special box called a coffin which gets carried into the funeral.
"But what happens to the box after you say goodbye?"

Being 6, I needed to keep this as simple as I could for her without being untruthful. We've had discussions about death before, as some of you may have read previously on another post.
I told her that either the body gets buried into the ground or sometimes they get burnt in a special fire.  Then, the ashes that are left behind are scattered in a special place to help make the flowers grow.
"But that would hurt them wouldn't it? Or is the box fireproof?"

A tricky one to answer. Keep this simple and sensitive.
"Well, they won't feel any pain because they are dead and have left their bodies behind"
We often say that the soul inside us floats up into the clouds which seems to be enough for her in terms of understanding.

It is not an easy thing to talk about, especially if the person who has passed away is close to you and perhaps your child is attending the service with you. In our case the questions were because Daddy was going and she didn't really know the family member. This kind of made it a bit easier to discuss in some ways.

The most important thing for me was to remain as simple and truthful as possible. I want her to make her own decisions about whether she believes in heaven or life after death, so by just saying that our souls go above the clouds, I think it's simple enough for her to grasp and not as scary to think about, especially with her anxieties about death.
Answering questions as best you can, letting them talk about it as openly as possible and listening to their ideas is a great way of discussing funerals and death with children. Our discussion ended up onto whether they get thirsty above the clouds, would you see them if we flew in an aeroplane above the clouds and do they play with other people who have died?

Let them cry about it if they want to, let them understand it's ok to be sad but also that the best thing is that the person who died doesn't feel pain anymore. I explained that her Daddy's Aunty was very poorly but now she is better because she has left her body behind and gone above the clouds to be happy.
Such a tricky topic, but one we all as parents have to discuss at some point.
What has worked for you when discussing funerals and death??

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