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Entries in Death (2)

Tuesday
Jun242014

What Happens to Your Online Presence When You Die?

Wednesday
Jul112012

On Death and Dying

OK, this may not be my most uplifting post ever, yet it is a topic needing conversation.

An old friend once made a comment, “When going to church, you start in the last row and slowly move up to the front.”

I feel that way about life these days.  Where 30 years ago the conversations were about sex/drugs/jobs/relationships, now the discussions are often about who has what ailment.  Who has heart this, or cancer of that…  It’s downright depressing!  This leads me to this post.

What do you tell younger children when they are experiencing death in the family?

My daughter called me at work one day in a panic as her pet guinea pig (apparently at the hand of her offspring.)  Rushing home, we immediately had a proper burial (in the backyard in a shoebox) with an appropriate somber accumulation of friends attending the wake and funeral. Everyone said a few words, we made a little headstone, and then we went out for ice cream.

While an innocuous ceremony, it did provide the opportunity for the child to learn about death, experience some of the “ceremony”, and the after party.  It’s been over a decade and a half, and my daughter still brings this up from time to time…so you know it made an impression.

When my parents passed, the kids got another opportunity to learn. 

My dad passed suddenly after a lengthy convalescence.  We were on vacation camping in New Hampshire, and learned of my dad via a late night visit from the campground owner (this was before cell phones.)  We left the kids with friends, and immediately flew to Cleveland to help my mom.  My parent’s preference was to not have a funeral, and so my kids didn’t have a need to attend what was essentially a period of arrangements & cleaning out “his stuff.”

My mom died after 2 weeks in the hospital.  We decided to talk to the kids, and let them know Gram was ill and would likely pass.  We explained this to the children, who wanted to ask questions.  Gram was in the hospital (650 miles away), and we didn’t think the kids needed to visit and remember Gram “that way.”  We let them ask questions and provided straightforward answers….until the kids changed the subject.  At that point, we assumed they had enough and were ready to move on.

I was with my mom the night before she passed.  She was unconscious, and the medical people were predicting how long she would live in hours.  The end was near.  I called the kids, and held the phone to Gram’s ear so they could say their goodbyes

What my kids said to Gram was between them and their Grandmother.  As the call came to a close, I observed tears coming from my unconscious mother’s eyes.  To this day, I believe my Mom heard her grandkids say goodbye.

What’s right for your kids is up to you.  I’m happy I don’t live in an era where the corpse is in the living room waiting for callers.  I believe it’s important for kids to understand when someone is passing, and not subject them to terminal memories from the hospital.  Having them pay their respects to the deceased is very important.

What are your thoughts?