|  Parenting, Personal

I’m trying to crack on with some work but one of my servers is 503ing, which – as you can probably imagine – is not particularly conducive to “cracking on”, so as an interim measure I’ve just read Alison’s latest post Trying to be as strong as I want my children to be, which surfaced some thoughts that have been bubbling away lately…

Isabel has recently started asking questions about death, and showing an interest in the subject. We actually had a brush with the topic several months ago but a brief explanation seemed to satisfy any need for knowledge at the time. I had hoped this would be it for the foreseeable future but apparently not; like Alison’s son, she too said this week she doesn’t want to die. (Responding to that with “everybody dies eventually” was, in hindsight, probably not the smartest thing to say, but we live and we learn.)

I do not fear death and I’m not worried about Isabel learning about death and dying. It has to happen eventually, and given the state of Big Pig’s health it might be sooner rather than later, although I cling to the hope that she doesn’t experience it directly for as long as possible.

I am worried about how I ever broach the subject of people who choose the path that leads to death. I’m worried about how I tell Izzy there’s a special guy who’ll she’ll never get to meet because of a decision he made 14 years ago. How do you tell a little girl that someone who should be a huge part of their life, decided that they would rather die than deal with the consequences of their choices in life?

I can’t help but feel like I’m hiding a lie by not telling Izzy that she had an uncle she’ll never get to meet, but I’m not sure I am ready to tell her yet either. Mostly because I know she’ll ask “why”, and I still don’t have the answer to that question.

Jem Turner +44(0)7521056376

7 comments so far

  1. Amelie said:

    Interesting that you’re posting about this as I was thinking similar thoughts recently. D is far too young to understand or to even ask these sorts of questions but he did point at pictures of my brother and ask who he was and where he was, and even then I didn’t know how to answer. Different circumstances to yours, but it got me thinking the same as you about the fact that a special person is missing who should be sharing his life, and how sad it is for both parties that that isn’t happening. I was also wondering just how I’ll broach that whole subject when the time comes if I don’t know how to do it even now when all D asked was where he (brother) was :S

  2. Mumblies said:

    I am certain that when Izz asks about her Uncle that she will be older which will help her to deal with her feelings about it.

  3. Alison said:

    That is a tough one. I guess I’d probably wait till she brought it up – if she saw a picture or something? I am trying this with a tough topic in our home, thinking it will buy us all time. And it will, but the truth is, all any of us can do is our best at any given moment, and it is probably good enough when we do.

  4. Sam said:

    That is my story. My uncle committed suicide while my mum was pregnant with me. I’ve known sice primary school, though I don’t remember exactly how my mum revealed that particular part of the story. I’ve always known about Uncle M, because he was so loved, his children were my buddies, etc. He was talked about, but before I knew the whole story, I was just told that he’d died, not how.

    I grew up on a farm, and a grandpa had died when I was 3, so I knew people and pets would go away and not come back, ever (but the depth of understanding wasn’t really there).

    While I don’t remember the exact words, I do remember the gist of how my uncle’s death was explained to me. Essentially, just that he chose not to be alive anymore, because he was very sad and also quite sick [mentally, etc from drug abuse, which I found out about when I was a little bit older but still in primary], but that his choice was very sad for everyone else and that it would have been better if he’d not done that and asked for help instead.

    There’s not perfect way to tell a child about how someone has died, but I’m so glad I get to share the happy memories my family has of my uncle.

  5. Stephanie said:

    This may seem silly, but The Lion King is a really good way to segue into a conversation about death. That was how I first learned about it, really, and the same goes for my little sister. It was timely, because a dear friend of my brother (he was also a friend of mine) died very suddenly due to complications from Cystic Fibrosis soon after she saw the movie. When she saw my brother grieving, she went to him and said, “Don’t be sad, [Brother]. [Friend] will always be in your heart,” which is the lesson Rafiki teaches to Simba when he has problems coming to terms with his father’s death. My brother and I were fortunate enough to not really have to experience death until we were well into adolescence. We had great-grandparents die, but we were so young we didn’t really understand what was happening. My sister, on the other hand, has experienced a lot of death, and she isn’t even 7 yet. She has handled the concept surprisingly well, and she is very at peace with the idea that people and pets die, and that it is okay. I don’t think you need to bring up your brother’s suicide to her, not yet anyway. When she learns about the topic, then it could be a good time to explain it. If she asks how he died, well, I am not really a fan of lying or sugar-coating. I guess I would say that he was very sad, and his sadness made it hard for him to live, so he made a choice to not live anymore. I know that doesn’t nearly cover the depth and complexity of the circumstances surrounding his death, but I think it could be enough of an explanation to satisfy a young mind.