Monday, 9 April 2012

A subject we tend to avoid...

Whether we like it or not, death is very much part of life.  Nothing is more certain.  The only thing we don't know for sure, is when.

Death of young people is especially heartbreaking. In recent times we have followed the course of Jim Stynes' s illness and death and the outporing of emotion that marked his funeral.  On a more personal level, my 32 year old nephew died unexpectedly. With such premature deaths, we mourn them both for their lives and for the life that they haven't yet lived.  What might have been.

And parents in particular, find the death of their children something they never want to face.  It is the wrong order of theings.  And I have heard grandparents say "It should have been me, my life is nearly over anyway." And when a baby or young child dies, no one knows what to say, the grief is raw and affects everyone. 

It is hard enough for us to deal with death, especially the death of someone close, without having to explain death to children.  Perhaps it was easier in the days when religious belief was widespread, when child mortality was high and people died at home rather than in hospital, but now in the absence of these things we can be left struggling for words.There are now excellent resources to help with the task, and perhaps some of the best advice is to use the non-emotional times to start raising the issues with children eg a dead flower,  leaves falling off trees, a dead bird found on a walk.

An on line pamphlet I found particularly helpful is

There is however, no easy answer to this complex issue, because we all bring our own experiences, feelings and attitudes, but we shouldn't ignore it.

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