Why are we so hush-hush about death?
At my funeral, do not wear black.
Purple hives of flamboyant clothes filled my closet.
So, don’t wear black for me.
At my funeral, do not be afraid to speak.
For my voice has always been as loud as 3.
At my funeral – it’s ok to laugh.
Poetic justice always occupied my mind.
At my funeral – I hope my soul is alive – so I can hug each one of you.
Even if my soul is the only one who knows.
I’m at my funeral now – the people I see here, are the ones who matter.
So, do not feel obliged to cry for me in front of strangers.
I want my funeral to be how I lived.
It doesn’t have to be morbid, depressing, and sad.
Just know I love you while I’m here.
That’s all that matters.
Maybe, if we talked about death more,
there wouldn’t be so many questions, doubt, and guilt in people’s minds.
If I die tomorrow, I do not hate you.
If we fought yesterday, I forgive you.
No, you couldn’t do more.
What should we tell children?
Most importantly, don’t say nothing.
Please, don’t lie. Don’t let a kid believe, the person they love is still living when they are dead.
First, this topic is quite morbid, ok extremely morbid, but it is needed.
Today, almost every household is faced with death or the possible passing of a loved one.
However, not all death-talk needs to sound like the creepy tales in movies, with big black scary monsters. Dragging us out of our bedroom kicking and screaming.
If you are a squirmy family member – no, I am not suicidal. Or planning my death or anybody else’s death.
Yet, I have noticed, in our society, people do not discuss death enough.
Let’s talk about death
In everyday conversation- the mere mention of death, has elders shutting you up. Shushing you into silence.
Not in our house. People do not die here.
In the tragic case that an actual death happens, emotions are not discussed.
The standard monotone sentence, “Oh they are more relieved now”.
Ok, that was a crappy translation from Arabic- but it is along the same lines.
Death is simply not something we talk about. Unless, it is an endearing term, saying, “I love you to death” or “bhibik moot“.
Our jokes and compliments ironically mention death.
However, when death comes knocking on our doors, mute silence is returned.
Telling children about death
Often, toddlers are still too young to understand the permanence of death and the deep grieving processes we go through.
We want to shield our little people from the pains of life. Letting childhoods be as majestic as possible for our princes and princesses.
At some level, I agree. Childhood is meant to be free and creative. Away from the jarring and daunting fears and responsibilities.
Children do not need to know or be preoccupied with every bad thing in life. They will have enough first-hand experience when they grow up.
Understandably, we want to keep their inner child caged for as long as possible.
Furthermore, childhood is magical. We should all try to make it feel this way.
However, we underestimate what a child sees and understands. For the most part, we are afraid kids will be scarred for life.
How can they go through the 5 stages of grief? I don’t want them to feel that way. Neither do I.
Truthfully, they will not go through these stages. Since they process emotions differently.
Their emotional awareness is at a more immediate level. They will cry about not seeing their favorite uncle or grandma again.
However, they do not have the foresight to look into the future.
Hence, it is always better to tell them the truth. As opposed to lying. They know something is up.
How to tell kids about death: An adult’s role in guiding grief
- Talk to your child ( or sibling, niece, nephew, etc.) about death. When faced with death they are likely confused. They need to feel safe enough to ask you questions. Let them pick away at your brain.
- Me.Me. Me. Did I mention me? Toddlers understand life from an egocentric point of view. They can blame themselves or the deceased for their death. Accordingly, it is very important to reassure children that they are not to blame and their loved ones did not abandon them.
- As for the preschool age, children rely on magical explanations of death rather than logical ones. They experience difficulty in understanding the permanence of death. Hence, an adult has to continuously remind their child that the person they loved is dead or gone.
- Whereas, during middle childhood, children understand that death is permanent. They experience moments of normalcy and other moments of anger. They should be granted the freedom to openly grieve and attend funerals (or other rituals associated with death) if they wish to do so.
If you are still wondering,
What should we tell the children?
Check out this book about childhood grief.
Lying to children and elders about death
Furthermore, lying to family members about death is more common than you think.
People assume the elderly and children are too feeble and fragile to understand death.
To me that is hilarious. Especially, concerning the elderly.
When you live to see 90, it is a miracle if you survived life, without losing a friend or loved one.
Worse, a child or spouse.
Hence, these elders are not fragile. On the contrary, they know more about death than you and me.
Presumably, they are closer to it. They have some wisdom.
Ask your elders for help- don’t hide death talk from them
In my nuclear family, I find that people keep things hushed around my grandma.
She, who is 87, *knock on wood*, has had her fair share of encounters with death.
Yet, the death of a distant family member- was hidden from her.
Frankly, at this stage, I am uncertain she would even care, in the way they think she would.
Yet, people were afraid to tell her. Afraid of how she would react.
When in reality, the hiding and scheming are causing her more distress than the concept of death.
She knows death. She has seen it.
Who are we to deem if she is fragile enough or not? Unless she declares, I do not want to hear about these stories anymore.
Anybody can notice the sudden silence in the room when they walk in. Or the sadness in people’s faces, especially, if she birthed them.
So, what is the point of lying? She knows what’s up. Indeed, she feels and senses it.
Instead, she feels left out and left stupid, which is probably worse than just hearing the news.
Finally, be ready for any question
In conclusion, maybe if we talked about death more it would be less scary.
Not at the dinner table though. We don’t need to be constantly reminded that we might go either.
That’s a tiny bit morbid. Just be prepared with what to say if the time ever came. Hopefully, not anytime soon 🤞.
If lost, ask your elders. They have been through this before.
What freaks you out the most about dying?