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Atheist and Agnostic Mama's Mrs. Norton Due June 10; 2 kids; 9344 posts
24th Apr '13

What do you/will you tell your kids about after life when they have to face death before they are really old enough to tell them how you really feel without scarring them? Lol my 5-year-old has been asking me about what happens after her grandma's cat died, and recently asked where my grandmother is. My knee jerk reaction was to explain heaven to her but I'm not happy with myself. She is such a sensitive child I think she might need to believe in a place like heaven to cope with the loss. She still cried her eyes out. I don't think anything less happy and idealistic would be good for her. Yet I am dreading the day when we talk about how I really feel about the afterlife (I just don't know but my best guess is that nothing dramatic happens and our energy is absorbed into the people and world around us). Anyway, I haven't been giving an ultra traditional view of heaven (no streets of gold or mansions or worshiping God for the rest of time), but just a happy place where we play with dogs and cats and dance all day, and we will all be together in the end, etc...



Anyway, what are your thoughts? I am really struggling with "lying" to my kid about this stuff but I don't know how else to ease her sensitive heart. At this point it may be too late to go back on this. I don't know. Help!

user banned 1 child; :), :), United States 5380 posts
24th Apr '13

Watching..

user banned Lesbos, Greece 95211 posts
24th Apr '13

That people and animals die and it's a part of life just as much as being born is. To help them cope with the loss, I often remind them that memories of the person are just as important as the person themselves.



I consider memories an atheist's version of Heaven. :D

castaway 2 kids; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 19436 posts
24th Apr '13

We have a hard time with this too. My daughter asks about my dad a lot, who died when she was a baby (she is four and a half now)



I think we may pull a Lion King type of "our loved ones turn into the grass" type of thing, and they they are all around us, and live on in our memories.

Stephicus Due April 25 (girl); 1 child; Pennsylvania 116 posts
24th Apr '13

I have had this same internal debate and decided if it makes him feel better I'll just say "so and so went to heaven with the angels" and leave it as vague as possible. Right now he's 4 and I've told him if you die that's it, there's no coming back, but I haven't had to go that extra step and explain any type of afterlife etc yet. I let him believe in Santa at Christmas time and the Easter bunny and the tooth fairy, so I just sort of bundled the Heaven thing into that, realizing that he'll find out the truth (or figure out what he wants to believe) when he's older. I don't go into major details, just skim over it.

Stfu Squirrel District of Columbia 8559 posts
24th Apr '13

I started out with the heaven thing when dd was around 2. She's 4 now, and when we talk about death, god, religion, whatever... I say that nobody really knows what happens when we die, but some people believe in heaven/god/whatever. She tells me that she chooses to believe in that stuff. If that's easier for her, she's welcome to it.

user banned 1 child; New Orleans, Louisiana 18159 posts
24th Apr '13

My daughter believes (without me even mentioning anything about it, she just came up with it one day) that when people die, they become a part of the earth. She says they're everywhere including the grass and the wind. She's never dealt with death, she knows that two family members she has never met passed away within her first two years of life and just a few months before her fourth birthday she told me her papa was the reason her roses outside her window were still in bloom in December. Well not in so many words lol. I wouldn't know what to tell her if she hasn't come up with this on her own, to be honest.

Red Terror 3 kids; Washington 88 posts
24th Apr '13

I've explained it to my kids by letting them know a few different beliefs as well as my own so they can choose what comforts them best at that time. My husband and I have decided to let them make up their own minds about religion by talking about as many different faiths as possible. My oldest believes that when you die angels and fairies take you to live in the stars. My youngest thinks you become one of Santa's elves.

Stfu Squirrel District of Columbia 8559 posts
24th Apr '13
Quoting RunsWithScissors:" My daughter believes (without me even mentioning anything about it, she just came up with it one day) ... [snip!] ... Well not in so many words lol. I wouldn't know what to tell her if she hasn't come up with this on her own, to be honest."


I love that.



At my last job, I got into a long convo with some old hippy lady who was going on and on about how much people are like trees...how we come from the earth and return to the earth. I had never really thought about it that way, but it's a really beautiful perspective.

Lisa Lyon Due December 3 (boy); 3 kids; Nashville, Tennessee 455 posts
24th Apr '13

I am a Christian but I dont force my beliefs on my kids. I keep it simple and let them make their own understanding and truth from it. If you want to use heaven in a vague way do so. Im sure eventually a personal belief will form. If its heaven or our bodies and energy are absorbed they will find their own comfort in what they choose to believe. Just my opinion. :)

3 little monsters 3 kids; Olathe, Colorado 50990 posts
24th Apr '13

I just told me daughter the truth, that I didn't know what happens when we die. Then I told her that some people believe in heaven and others think that nothing happens. The whole concept of death really freaked her out and she would have mini breakdowns every once in a while crying that she didn't want to die or anyone she loved. We saw a Egyptian display at the Smithsonian and they had a child mummy. She started having a panic attack and I had to take her to another room. Now she's okay though. Death still scares her but she has come to terms with it and no longer thinks much about it. She says she just likes thinking about living better than dying. LOL

user banned 1 child; New Orleans, Louisiana 18159 posts
24th Apr '13

<blockquote><b>Quoting Stfu Squirrel:</b>" I love that. At my last job, I got into a long convo with some old hippy lady who was going on and ... [snip!] ... from the earth and return to the earth. I had never really thought about it that way, but it's a really beautiful perspective."</blockquote>



It warms my heart to hear my child sound so much like her papa (very much a hippy lol). I grew up around it, but always believed we were "worm food" once we hit the dirt. When my dd started asking about the relatives who passed I fully expected that I would need something child friendly to explain where we go, but she never once asked where they went or what became of them so I left it alone. I have to admit this age (4) is very insightful. Things I wouldn't expect to hear from her have been coming out full force. Things that took me until high school to grasp.