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I Don't Want to Die
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“I don’t want to die, Momma.” His eyes welled up with tears. And my heart skipped a beat.It is bedtime and my seven-year old is afraid. My mind races. He is not sick, but has he heard about the recent death of his classmate’s father? Has he misunderstood my medical appointments and upcoming surgery as a death sentence? Where is this coming from?

We’ve struggled with this issue for several weeks. Seemingly out of the blue, my sweet boy became afraid of death. He expresses this fear with varying degrees of emotion – sometimes tears, sometimes a little panic and other times with curl-up-in-momma’s-lap-and-cry sort of fear.

I emailed a friend of mine who is also a child psychologist and he advised that I need to speak very clearly and honestly with Jake about death. Children hear a lot of things around the subject, but very rarely the truth. “She’s in a better place,” “he passed away,” “we lost him,” “it’s just like sleep,” – all of these phrases can be confusing to a young child.

Discussing and Asking Questions

And when I began discussing and asking questions of Jake, I discovered that with his wide variety of friends (different nationalities as well as different religious backgrounds) he has heard a lot of conflicting explanations about death. Theories about going to heaven when you die, to death being the forever end of things and everything in between. Even the concept of death as sleep was scary each night when it was time to go to bed.

We were able, over time, to discuss many, MANY questions he had about death – including some interesting ones about our new home in Arizona and the possibility of death due to a rattlesnake or scorpion bite! Not all questions were easy to answer and I occasionally heard myself fall back on the easy-out “I’m not really sure, I’ve never been dead” response. We often prayed against fear and for God’s comfort for his heart. And our conversations seemed to put his mind at ease. It has been weeks now since I’ve heard him express fear.

This was a good reminder that I need to be sure to break things down for my kids. They don’t learn everything by osmosis. It’s important that I clarify things and make sure they know I’m always open to answering their questions and discussing their concerns.

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By Joelle Yamada. Copyright © 2013 by GraceNotes. All rights reserved. Use of this material is subject to usage guidelines

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