Dealing with the Kids’ Questions about Death

If you're new here, you may want to subscribe to my RSS feed. Thanks for visiting!

Death or the fear of dying….. Whether you are a military family or not, the fear is the same. However, when you are a military family it often hits to close to home. At some point, our children will have questions for us and we will have to answer to them.

I read somewhere that children are not born with the fear of death. They develop it as they grow and learn. Whether, it be from television, friends, family,etc. Children will pick up on your emotions and reactions. Death does not discriminate and it is inevitable. So how do we explain it to our children when the question is asked…”Mom is Daddy going to die in Iraq/Afghanistan?” I wish I had the answer.

I am by no means an expert and every child is different. I can only tell you how I have handled the question with my children. During my husbands first deployment, Army life was still very new to us, especially to our children.  My husband (Mr. Army) had only been out of OSUT (One Station Unit Training) for about 4 months before he deployed. We knew our time for the big “D Day” was coming up quickly.

Mr. Army and I had decided that we would speak to our children as often as possible about the upcoming deployment. We would say things like “Daddy will be getting on a plane and he wont be coming home for a long time.” Or “Daddy had to get on a plane with all the other soldiers and we wont be able to see him.” Of course, children their age (2 & 3) will always ask- “WHY?” We simply responded- ” Because he is a soldier and he has to go and help other people who can not help themselves. And that is what soldiers do.”

But I will be honest it never dawned on me to talk to them about the other big D word Death. Why would I, they were only 2 and 3. I felt like they didn’t even understand that word much less have any concept of what it meant. Boy was I wrong.

Shortly after Mr. Army deployed, my son started asking if Daddy was going to be okay. I had explained to the kids that daddy was going to Iraq and I had showed them on a map where we were and where daddy was. I thought giving them some kind of visual would make it easier for them to understand that daddy was not going to be able to come home for dinner or be able to go to the park with us. What I had not anticipated was that the word Iraq would bring fear and death into their minds and hearts.

I had the habit of turning on the news while I prepared dinner.The kids would be playing, coloring, keeping themselves occupied. I never realized, though, how much they paid attention to what was being said on the television. It does not fail, you can not watch television or log into the computer with out hearing/seeing/reading about yet another one of our Fallen Heroes. Children often pick up bits and pieces of information and then they form their own version or story in their minds. So my child quickly associated the words Iraq-Daddy-Death.

One evening after getting them all settled, we said our nightly prayer, which always included a small one for Daddy that said “please keep him safe.” As we were done with our prayer my son quickly added, “Please don’t let him die.” I was absolutely floored. I felt my heart fall into the pit of my stomach! I was not sure I had heard him correctly. That one little sentence immediately brought tears to my eyes. I turned my head as I did not want him to see the tears streaming down my face.

I ordered myself to get some composure and talk to him. I turned back and asked him what he thought the word die meant. He said – it means he wont come home. I asked him where he thought he (Mr. Army) would be or where he would go? To this he had no answer. So I figured okay there is no better time then to have this talk with him.

First, I do not want my children to have this fear of death itself. Second, I do not want them to fear that every time Daddy deploys he will not come home. I realize that every time we see him off to war that the chance is there, that he may not return to us, the unspoken. Whether we want to acknowledge it or not, it is there. But I do not want my children to have to carry that burden of fear as some often do.

So we looked at a picture of Mr. Army together and sat on the bed. I didn’t want to scare him as he was only 3. So I began by saying just because a person dies, it does not mean that they are not here with us. As you can imagine he looked rather confused. I explained that their body would never walk, sleep, eat, play, or run again but we would always have our memories and our love for that person.

I asked my son “Do you love me?” and he said “YES!” I said “Okay now how does that make you feel, when you think about it?” He smiled and responded, “It feels nice.” Those feelings those are there forever those are your to keep. It will never matter where your daddy is at,  he is always going to be with you, there in your heart. So then he asked me if Daddy was going to die? Again I got teary and I explained that Daddy loves us all so very much and we had to remember that. This still was not good enough for him. He clearly wanted a yes or no answer. So I said what any mother I think would have – Daddy loves you and will be home soon.

I think my children are very lucky. They are experiencing so many emotions — love, fear, hope, faith, happiness — that some children and adults will never experience.

I wish someone would have told me exactly what to say during these moments. Fact is I had no idea what to say to him. I still don’t. Am I scared when Mr. Army has to deploy. Yes that fear is always in the back of my mind. The key is to not let that fear over take you.

Till next time…

No related posts.

You can leave a response, or from your own site.

Leave a Reply

Powered by | Shop Online. | Thanks to , and | Disclaimer: Links on this site should be assumed to be affiliate links where the owner may profit if you click the link.