Explaining Death to Kids

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David Techner

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Talking to Kids About Spiritual Death

Talking to Kids About Spiritual Death
By David Techner

If you are able to distinguish between Physical Death and Spiritual Death, you are most of the way to a message that a child can comprehend. Physical Death is fact: there are no mysteries and we understand it. You should experience little difficulty in explaining the concept of "THE BODY STOPS WORKING." Spiritual Death is an entirely different story.

Spiritual Death has no simple road map to navigate. Your definition of what you believe happens when someone dies is your individual belief - no one else?s. So, ask yourself: "What do you believe?" and you will have your answer to the mystery of spiritual death. This is your explanation and no can claim you are either right or wrong: it is simply your belief.

As I have been telling kids for 30+ years, I have been involved in thousands of funerals and no one has ever called, written, faxed, texted or tweeted back to me exactly what lies ahead when our time on Earth comes to an end. So, just how do you explain spiritual death? Although your own approach likely will be necessary for a complete explanation, here is mine.

If I see Steve and Nancy at a restaurant and I know them, I can approach them, say hello and ask how things are going. How am I sure that these two people are Steve and Nancy? How do I know WHO they are? By their appearance!

So, I explain to kids that, when we bury someone, we bury the WHO of the person who has died. When we walk away from the grave, what we take with us is the WHAT of the person that died - what he meant to you as a grandfather; what he meant to your mother as a father; what he meant to your grandmother as a husband. Those are relationships that are exclusive to each person. That relationship was yours and is yours for the rest of your life. When you think of that person for any reason, his spirit is there with you. Death changes a relationship; it doesn't end a relationship.

A very important thing to remember is that you probably have a different view of spiritual death than your spouse and other members of your family. It might be wise to examine those different ideas, so you can present them as your beliefs, your husband's beliefs, your mother's beliefs, etc. Respect each of these beliefs as individual and never as right or wrong.

I very seldom can get out of a room or a class without being asked what I personally believe. So, here is my belief: My wife and I had a daughter who died in January of 1978 at eight months old. I explain that, although I can't necessarily define it, I do believe in something beyond the grave. I can't believe that our only contact with Alicia was her time on Earth. I do believe we will be reunited. I can't prove it, but I believe it. I feel the same about my mother and father and other relatives who have gone before me.

This is my belief, I can't prove it and, as I tell the kids, if I'm wrong, I've been wrong before and I'll be wrong again. I just won't be able to tell anyone about it.