There is a big age gap between myself and my sister. She was only 7 when our mother was diagnosed with terminal cancer. Started getting her familiar with death before our mother actually passed away. I used animals with her (she likes animals), to talk about how different animals age differently and talked about how we were quite lucky as humans, as we would get to live quite a long time and have quite a lot of fun, experiences, and all that, compared to most other animals. Gave her examples as well, rabbits, houseflies, elephants, turtles. Basically that we were lucky and fortunate. I talked to her about how it can be painful though to lose someone to death, especially people we love and see/saw everyday and that its okay if she was angry, hurt, sad, upset and that she should try and talk to me when she feels that way. That there are things we can do to try and cope.
Relatives had already introduced her to the idea of heaven, but I tended to be more neutral with my wording, telling my sister that we would always have our memories of our mother and that she will live on through us. That her mother would always be proud of her and that she was my mothers favorite experience in life.
I still remember the day I actually had to tell her, her mother died. We went to a park and ate chips. She cried naturally and wanted a big hug. She had trouble sleeping by herself after that for a few months, she just wanted to have someone in her room as well.
I sort of actually think that she may have been so young that it might have been beneficial as opposed to if she was a teenager? I have no idea though, I know as she gets older it will get tougher in a sense. There was one day at school she realized she was the only person in the class who had no father or mother. I feel lucky though since as far as I can tell she will contact me if she needs to talk about it and I think her knowing that helps. Sometimes she asks me to tell her stories about our mother and I always have some small story I can share.
Every parent/guardians situation will be different, from what I know on research, being comforting/firm helps, and trying to give some sort of scale/measure in a way the child will understand helps. Focusing on positives as well, avoid accidentally imprinting your own fears and concerns about death heh heh, and age is also a factor as well. Oh also have confidence in the sense you know your child/children/charges better than anyone really. So just use little things you know about them as well.
Good luck on what can be a very tricky subject. Am sure you and significant other will do totally fine!
@phylos: No worries, its actually pretty interesting. I remember when I first found out, I was like - it was after high school, so I was like… no wait, they would have taught this at school? That the freaking map I see everywhere is wrong? Then it was fun learning about it. Pops up now and then in media/news, you might find this following video fun.
@artyom: I think it tends to help people interact better with people of different beliefs/ideas when the people they love have those different understandings/beliefs. Are you able to have sincere conversations with those family and friends over religion or do you mutually agree to avoid that conversation?
hank you for the answer! I don't like being labeled or stereotyped either. When most people discover that I am religious they start to avoid me and they say things like "oh, your a Christian you must be judgmental, hypocritical, stuck up, and you look down upon us like we are lesser." Those things make me feel sick to my stomach that this is how Christians are viewed now a days.
No worries, and hey, I am sorry you have to be put in that position. its not very fair to treat anyone with that attitude. I imagine it must be hard online as well, since it allows for anonymity, as well as relative to real life tends to have more atheists and because some people can be more rude/antagonistic with their criticisms rather than say friendly or patient. So basically a numbers thing.
Do you have any family members or close friends, or such that are atheists? All my family and real life friends are religious, specifically Christian, so I don't really view any of them in terms of negatives. Well actually some of them I actually do, but not because of what religion they believe in/have beliefs about.
So are you religious, atheist, agnostic, or what? Sorry if you have already stated I an just curious. :)
Oh its fine, I like being asked questions. Personally I do not really like labels, but I am fine with being referred to as an atheist and agnostic, but it might depends on how one defines those terms. I would be a weak atheist as opposed to a strong atheist as one point of discern.
I do understand your point, but there is evidence that God is real. There is lots of evidence of what God has done. I do agree though that if there isn't evidence for something then you it can't be proven to be true.
Well yes and no, as in there is evidence that god is real depends how we apply the term evidence as whether partial or whole. I think it would be more accurate to say that what many consider evidence that god is real is actually evidence for something else. Routine humans biases for example, certain biological characteristics that tend to predispose humans to believe in the supernatural. I mean… there is evidence that Santa Claus as defined by a jolly, rotund man with a white beard and red suit who gives presents to good kids exists as well… its also just that the evidence that he is a fictional figure overwhelms that other evidence, in a variety of ways.
So I think that there is some accuracy and legitimacy when some people claim that there is evidence for gods/God, its a type of conclusion they have drawn based on what information they have been exposed to/understand. However sometimes that can be limited relative to others knowledge/understanding and even their own potential.