Explaining sadness… And the concept of death

Read “Inside Out” at bedtime to Little Foot and the questions of why sadness as an emotion is necessary and why it is okay to feel sad at appropriate times came up.

I gave her the example of this…

“If a mummy has just lost her baby, and the baby goes to heaven (this is how I simplified death for her to grasp at her age), should you be sad or happy?”

We talked about how odd it would be to be laughing out loud in such situations. And how it is okay to cry when one feels sad.

And then Little Foot asked me to tell her more about the mummy and the baby that went to heaven.

And so it was that I shared with her a little-told story of how my mother lost her toddler (My elder brother) to meningitis.

These are difficult things that as a family we seldom talk about, as I related the story to her, she wanted to know details – how does he look like? What is a virus? Do you have it?

And then the final explanation of why it was extremely heart-breaking to lose a loved one – never being able to hug again, never seeing the face in person again, till we meet again in heaven.

Little Foot is 4.5 years old, but I can tell the idea of the finality of death sank in by her expression.

There are stories that we hold in our memories that sometimes becomes useful teaching material at the most unexpected moments.

And in revisiting this little spoken of memory of our family, I am made to also try to imagine the anguish my mother went through back when it happened. It made me hug my child a little tighter.

And so it was that both Little Foot and I shared a learning moment in somewhat different ways.

Death is a difficult topic to discuss and yet when asked, I felt like we shouldn’t shy away from using it to develop the emotions of our young ones and helping them to manage certain feelings inside.

Let’s hope the next learning lesson will be something a bit less heavy on my heart.

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