Thursday, April 1, 2010

A tough question

Today, we were on our way home from spending the day with a good friend.

Mairead says: "Mommy? Can I ask you a question?"

Me: "Sure, go ahead!"

Mairead: "Why do some people die?"  

WHOA.........................Where did that come from??? 

Me: "Excuse me? Can you say that again, I didn't quite hear you..." even though I was pretty sure I  knew what she said, and sure enough, she asked the same question. I asked her where she heard the word die come from because I know Kevin and I haven't really broached the topic of death yet. Mairead told me our babysitter told her that her daddy had died when she was little (Cameron, if you're reading this, no worries!).

My mind was racing. What would be the right, most appropriate thing to tell a not-quite 4 year old girl about death? I had to think of something quick...she was waiting. I didn't want to give her an answer that would scare her. I never want her to be scared about death.

I told her that sometimes people get very, very sick and the body cannot work anymore (or something to that point) and once that happens, the person has to go to Heaven. I also wanted to clarify that sick wasn't just a cold, but more than that. Whatever it was I said satisfied her, and she didn't ask any more. I was taught way back when, to only answer the child's question, and if they ask more, then answer. I always thought that was a good rule of thumb. I always want to be honest with my children, and not give them an answer that isn't true.

I guess that is why my 4 year old knows exactly how babies are born. Knows more about a cervix than I did at the age of 20 and knows more about the human body than most adults. She asks. I answer....but never divulge too much information :) Just enough that is needed to answer the question!

Ah, this is just a remind that all these tough questions are sitting right on the tip of her tongue. It won't be long until she starts asking more difficult questions like these. Wow.


  1. good answer! reminds me of how Ricky answered zoe's question: What are guns? Ricky: they shoot bullets. Zoe: What are bullets? Ricky: things that go very, very fast. Zoe was satisfied and didn't ask anymore questions about it.

  2. I think you handled that very well. We had to deal with death when Chiara was just 3.5 when David's Grandfather died, then our two dogs followed. It was rough. Such a hard concept to understand or teach.

  3. We have dealt with that question a few times in the past couple years as well. Not fun. But you handled it the same way we do. We don't want to lie to our kids but we also don't want to overwhelm them with too much info for there little hearts and minds.
    Just Last week we had to explain the miscarriage of a dear friend of ours. Man that was aweful and tough and emotional for all of us because Lily's good friends with her daughters plays with them regularly and we've been going through this pregnancy together.
    Praying for wisdom as we raise these girls, because you are right the questions are only going to get bigger.


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