Wednesday, 23 February 2011

Lets talk about dying...

How many times over the past year have a shielded my kids from that inevitable fact?  The one where we're all going to suffer the same fate and die?  Is it fair to shroud it mystery?  Is it fair for the subject to be taboo?  In this household we've suffered our fair share of family deaths and the kids know that some people and animals die before their time. They've been given the "nice" story, the one that says everyone who dies goes to a nicer place where the sun always shines and everyone is good and no one is horrible.  The animals meet their owners, brothers meet sisters, families look after each other....and everyone is happy.  That's good, because it gives them something to believe in and stops them having nightmares....and it stops the awkward questions that I have no answer to.

"Mummy, where do the tigers go?"

"Mummy, does the bad man go there too?"

"Mummy, will they be able to take their favourite toys?"

"Mummy will you be there?"

And the boys...

"Will  the worms eat my eyes?"

"What if they're buried alive"

"Can they take their DS"

"Won't it be boring?"

Some of the questions need answering and are easily answered others rely on common sense. I make inappropriate jokes in the hope that it may take some of the fear out of it. But do I really want to prepare them for it, or prepare them for the death of someone close to them?  If I make it pretty for them, perhaps it won't be as bad.

I'm not a church goer, but I believe in "something" although I haven't  quite yet worked out what that something is.  Faithful church attendees have something to hold onto and that is something I admire, but I can't take the "book" literally..I see the flaws, and the futility of utter faith. I questions and have questioned, but it doesn't answer those questions for me. I have leaning towards Buddhism, but I'm get too angry to be a true one, and I believe that we all have a purpose.  So what does that make me? I'm still not sure, but I know my experiences make me a more compassionate person.

But is it right not to prepare ourselves and our children for the inevitability?  To make it less frightening and to make the grief easier should they suffer in the aftermath of a death?

When I lost my youngest sister through a brain hemorrhage at the age of 9, the nightmare of it all was horrendous.  No one like to talk about the death of a child.  For my parents her death was staggering and an experience no one should have to go through  We are expected to suffer, but all I remember is how I missed her, how she was going to miss everything in our lives.  The lump in my chest expanded until I had no feelings other than the lump. I remember saying to Ma in her suffering that at least she didn't have to blame anyone and that was a good thing.  She didn't need to go through the rest of her life hating and being bitter. She said she was bitter, and hated everyone that didn't go through what she went through.  She hated all of the children that were mean to her daughter. My faith took a battering and I found it hard to believe that there was a purpose. When we lost my eldest brother through cancer it, the nightmare returned. So Ma and Pa, both lost a son and a daughter and all we have are the memories..an imprint of their lives. My faith was shattered again.

Have they gone to a better place?  I have no idea. I have no idea if they're happy or if they've gone to the "other place".  I keep telling my babies that there is  another place, and I hope there is...but at the moment I really have no idea. 

I'm not afraid of death and I'm happily/morbidly/practically planning my funeral.  No one want to hear my plans, so I'll have to write it down, in the hope they get it right. No tears, just a "mama mia" style celebration with a gospel choir...and if anyone plays a tape recording of my favourite tunes I think I may just turn in my urn!





2 comments:

  1. One of our cats died on Monday. It was totally unexpected, and I hadn't even considered how to deal with death and the kids yet! Bean is 2.5, and not particularly verbal yet, but old enough that she knows the cat's name, that he's a cat, that he says meow, that he doesn't like being bitten or having his tail pulled, etc.

    Some other parents told me to sneak the cat out when she wasn't looking and never bring it up again, but that just didn't sit well with me. I don't think death should be hidden. She may not remember it at all, but then again, maybe she will. I remember some stuff from when I was two. *shrug* So my husband and I decided to give her the chance to say good-bye. We said he was dead and so he was going away and wouldn't come back again. She waved bye-bye, kissed his head, and then cried. For about a minute. And then she went on to watch Curious George.

    I know when she's older, it'll be more complicated than that. For me personally, I want to avoid the "better place" stuff, since it's not what I believe. Plus, just my luck, it would make for even more awkward questions, like, "then why were we keeping him here, in a worse place?" Definitely something to ponder before it smacks us in the face again.

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  2. I want to try and avoid the lying bit, as I don't want them to say "Mummy, you lied!", but I don't want to be harsh either. You chose the right path with saying goodbye. It was always shrouded in mystery for me, so more fearful. I suppose that's why I make up the nice stories for them. It's something we only think about when we're faced with it.

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