Tuesday, December 15

How much death is too much death?

Today, during a rare quiet moment, I found The Girl in her room. She was sitting in the small green rocker that I use to nurse The Baby. She was holding her Tinkerbell and wearing a sad face. I asked her what was up, and she said, "Tinkerbell died, so hers Mommy is sad." Upon further investigation I found out that Tinkerbell had died "from a gun that shotted her". So The Girl, being a good fairy mother, put on her sad face and was holding a vigil for the fallen pixie.
All kids play death, right? Little boys shoot and shank and blow up things. Little girls... well, do little girls play death?

Ordinarily pretend play doesn't bother me. I encourage lots of dress up. We have had makeshift fire stations, business offices, veterinarian clinics, castles, teepees, and enchanted forests rule and ruin our home. Both of my big B's have very vivid, and incredibly detailed imaginations. Which is great. Which I love.

But I've put a restriction on playing dead lately. Why? Why would I hinder any amount of inventive play?

Because we've had 6 dead people in less than 3 years. (None of them, by the way, were "shotted" to death.) My kids have lost 2 great-grandfathers, an aunt, a great-grandmother, and both grandfathers (not to mention 2 beloved dogs).  They were close with all but one of these people who have since gone on. They also know that they have a baby cousin in heaven, and that she went before we had a chance to meet her.

We've had a lot, a LOT, of dead lately. We've had more where/how/why/when/who discussions about heaven than any 5 and 3 year olds should have. The Boy was not even 3 when all the dying began.

Death has been an ongoing conversation in our family, and really, I'm sick of it. So, I'm imposed sanctions on the dead play.


I know, I know, the kids have their own ways of wading through, of processing the heavy load of information. Play is good, play is contemplation, play is expression.

In our house we don't play dead, and we don't kill. They kids, even at their tender ages, already know about the brevity of life and the finality of death.


And I just wonder... am I doing more harm than help? It's not that we've put Death in a jar in the shelf above the refrigerator never to be mentioned again. We talk Death. We've talked Death, well, to death. We just don't play death.

7 comments:

  1. I am so thankful to read this because I have SOOO struggled with this. I hate it when Connor says he is "killing" someone when he is playing superheroes, etc. (and he also says "shotted" which I think is hilarious that they use the same word!) But anyway--we have had some death, not as much as you guys, in our family, and I know it just confuses him. We have talked about heaven, etc. but the thing for me is that the "playing death" doesn't seem to have anything to do with him processing/dealing/etc. with the real thing. And so that's one of the main reasons why I want to outlaw the death play in this house. That, and the fact that it just sounds so ugly when he says someone is going to die, etc. Plus, I want him to learn to respect LIFE. Sigh. This was some rambling....not really even a comment. But we deal with this over here, too, and I just don't really know how to handle it!!!

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  2. this might come out of left field for you, but i often wonder how i will explain to our next child (PLEASE let there be a next child) about his/her dead big brother. there is no way in hell i wouldn't tell them, but i often wonder what it will be like to explain death to a child.

    in my opinion, talking about death is important because it does happen and sometimes far to often and to close together. but how detailed can you get with a child? how much can they really understand?

    i say just keep talking to them about it. how it's sad when someone gets "shotted" or how it's wrong to ever kill anyone. but also explain that life is precious and no one deserves to get "shotted."

    oh hell, i don't know…

    ReplyDelete
  3. Hey, J....
    My nephews (and my kids) talk often about "baby Bliss who went to heaven before we met her." She was my sister's first. They have traditions that incorporate Bliss. They have a candle that stays out and is lit on her birth/death day, and at Christmas. They go to her grave every year, and often every season, with flowers.

    I don't think any of them (except the oldest, my sister's stepson, who was around when Bliss was born) truly understand that she was alive, and then she wasn't. They just know she came before, and that she is not here now.

    Growing up, I had a best friend whose sister died about 10 years before we were born.

    The ones who are gone are always remembered. My nephews are very aware of the "memory" of Bliss, even though they never knew her.

    Keep tangible reminders of Evel around for his future brother/sister(s!), and for yourself.

    My sister had another girl after 2 boys and a miscarriage. She got to wear some of the clothes her big sister never did. We took pictures of Annie in Bliss's outfits. Someday it will mean something Big and Important to her.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Wow, um, that comment left out half of what I said.

    Anyway, Julie, you're right. We have to talk honestly with kids about death, and it's a fine line between scaring them and talking candidly about it. You'll do fine when the next one comes around. ( :) )

    ReplyDelete
  5. This was some rambling....not really even a comment. But we deal with this over here, too, and I just don't really know how to handle it!!!

    Work from home India

    ReplyDelete
  6. this might come out of left field for you, but i often wonder how i will explain to our next child (PLEASE let there be a next child) about his/her dead big brother. there is no way in hell i wouldn't tell them, but i often wonder what it will be like to explain death to a child.

    in my opinion, talking about death is important because it does happen and sometimes far to often and to close together. but how detailed can you get with a child? how much can they really understand?

    i say just keep talking to them about it. how it's sad when someone gets "shotted" or how it's wrong to ever kill anyone. but also explain that life is precious and no one deserves to get "shotted."

    oh hell, i don't know…

    ReplyDelete
  7. Wow, um, that comment left out half of what I said.

    Anyway, Julie, you're right. We have to talk honestly with kids about death, and it's a fine line between scaring them and talking candidly about it. You'll do fine when the next one comes around. ( :) )

    ReplyDelete

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