My Son Asked Me What Would Happen If I Died

My Son Asked Me What Would Happen If I Died

Kids ask tough questions about life (or death), and we must show up for the conversation.


By: Maria Mora

My children weren’t exposed to death until recently, when their great-grandfather passed away. Up until then, they only thought about death in the context of video games -- where you get unlimited lives or you can always restart.

I’ve been paying close attention to their attitudes to watch for signs of anxiety and distress. My 8-year-old recently brought up death on his own, and I’m so glad he did. It gave us a chance to talk about things I desperately want him to know.

“Mama, if you pass away,” he said, “I’m going to find a way to die too, so I don’t have to be sad.”

I felt a cold, twisting feeling in my chest.

“Oh, baby doll,” I told him. “No, you wouldn’t.”

He cried and insisted that he couldn’t live if I died. It broke my heart, and I struggled not to cry too as we talked. But I managed to get the most important point across. When people pass away, the best way you can honor them and their wishes is to continue living and seek joy where you can.

More from P&G everyday: 7 Important Tips for Talking to Kids About Death and Loss

I told him that no one knows exactly what happens after we die, but that I would love him forever, until the end of the universe and back. He’s a big space geek, and he loves that stars are old or dead but we can still see their twinkling lights at night. I think he understood that like the stars, love is eternal.

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I told him that he’s allowed to be sad about sad things in life, but that he can’t run away from sadness. None of us can. We have to move forward through the sadness. I told him that he’s my joy in life and that when I pass away when I’m old, I’ll want him to keep doing the fun things that make us all of us happy.

“All right,” he finally told me. When we hugged, I held him tightly and cried into his hair.

None of us like to be confronted with mortality, but we owe kids honest conversations. We owe it to them to listen and to honor their fears. I doubt this was the last time we’ll talk about loss, but for now I think my son feels better.

Have your kids ever talked about death?



Maria Mora is a single mom, editor, and hockey fanatic. She lives with her two sons in Florida.

Image ©iStock.com/Juanmonino



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