I was watching some movie on TV the other day while my son was playing with his toys. There was a particularly noisy scene (crying, screaming, etc) and the kid happened to look up and the scene was of a person dying. He saw that and just said, “Uncle jo-jo” (jo-jo is his word for sleeping). I obviously didn’t correct him ‘coz it’s still too early to teach him what death is. He’s only 2!
But time flies. Before I know it he’ll be old enough to understand it’s not sleeping. And I’ll have to talk to him about it. Explain what happens when a person dies.
I don’t know how to do it. Yet. I know exactly WHAT I want him to learn, though. The HOW is still a work in progress. It’ll come. Until then, here’s what I’d like him to know –
1. Death is not something to be scared of. It’s a part of life, like everything else. It’s not in our control, so there’s no point worrying about it.
2. Death is final. So don’t take life for granted. Don’t take people, esp your family, for granted. Cherish everything and everyone. Don’t hold grudges..well, at least not for too long. Live.
3. When a loved one dies (because they will. It’s inevitable.) it will hurt. A lot. You’ll feel like it’s the end of everything. Like nothing will ever be the same. That’s completely normal. Things will not be the same, yes. But in time, you will get used to it. So give yourself time, even though all you can think of is just curling up in bed and never waking up.
4. Crying is good. Cry as much as you want, as long as you want and as loud as you want. But cry. That said, if you don’t feel like crying, don’t beat yourself up over it. You probably got that from me – I’ve lost 3 grandparents and a great-grandparent and I couldn’t shed a single tear. It’s ok.
5. No matter how weak or alone you feel, there will probably be someone else who feels weaker and lonelier. If you can, be there for them. You don’t have to be strong. Just be there.
6. The only way to beat death is to be remembered even after dying. So keep the memories alive. Forever.
7. The only indispensable person in your life is you. Everyone else will come and go. So love them when they’re there and let go when they go. Time heals everything. Death is no exception.
Some of this, I know, he’ll understand only by himself when he’s much older. I hope he does. His mother figured this out only when she wondered how to teach him about death. :-)
I took this photo yesterday, when he was all lost in his own magical world of crows, butterflies, gates and cars.