How to teach kids about death?
The Best Bedtime Book provides a unique resource to help anyone teach or talk to kids about death, something often adults avoid or lack in training children to maturity in dealing with life. The book provides a seemingly smooth introduction into life and death topics while keeping a fluid harmony with the other topics of the children's book.
The book provides a nightly rhyme with introductory mentions of life and death. It uses unique, analogous language to subtly but clearly integrate into God's plan for the bedtime cycle (day and night; sun and moon; young and old; work and rest). The ultimate point of the book is directing children to God, the Bible, and the Christian message of salvation by Jesus (life, death, and resurrection).
The Best Bedtime Book is a great resource for adults like parents, grandparents, relatives, teachers, pastors, and more that integrate the book's rhyme into the nighttime-bedtime routine.
Either we avoid or prepare children for life and death.
Life is filled with death. Every year there's death. Death of plants. Death of animals. Death of seasons. Death of people. Death is not easy. Death can be insufferable, especially for the unprepared.
However, adults are not always discussing death with children, and normally it's the emergency situation that catches everyone off guard. Death of a parent, friend, neighbor, co-worker, or even classmate.
One may think that if they start talking to their kids about death, that then jinxes them and will lead to death. Others have been forced to discuss death when a loved one is dying of a long-term illness. Others are excruciatingly introduced to immediate, unprepared, and shocking death. Whether it's a loved one or the circumstances of death (type, method, visual, scene, issues, pains, sounds, smells, etc.).
Often children notice or at least feel the pains (or the opposite of becoming numb or lacking care) of death. Children grow up and become adults with these things sometimes or often directing their life. Many adults are so focused on living or at least surviving that they can intentionally or unintentionally avoid talking to kids about death.
One true comfort for everyone, children to adults, is that Jesus died. He didn't just die for sins or for our salvation, he at the basic level of life -- died. There's a type of comfort in shared experiences, especially on what to expect or helping to minimize fear and focus on living. The gospel of Jesus also directs us to understand that there is life beyond death -- the true hope of the world which is to be with God eternally because of Jesus.
Questions often asked or needs to be answered for kids:
What if a parent dies?
What if both parents die?
What if a relative dies?
Why is there death?
Does everyone die?
What is a funeral?
Why do people do celebration of life?
Does everyone in the hospital die?
Why are people getting angry?
Why are people crying?
Why are people rushing around?
Why do he/she look asleep?
For families, even healthy families, do you have a plan in place for death?
Written down somewhere? Printed and viewable? Referencable somewhere like on a computer, desk drawer, safe, etc? If on computer, backup copy somewhere? Someone has a basic outline as needed?
Does your plan include how to operate the home for 1-6 months? Bills, rent/mortgage, daily needs like food, etc.?
Life insurance can be a great financial tool, if possible, to include. Even those 18 and older, getting an extremely inexpensive life insurance plan that designates the parents or next of kin as beneficiaries helps pay for loss and cost of death.
Living trust, will, or some type of written document detailing what to do in case of death? Have you instructed your children in what to do? Have you notified anyone around (trusted family, friends, neighbors, church, school, etc.) on what to do in case of emergency, especially death?
Death is hard. Death is difficult. Death is not a fun conversation. Death brings reality of the end near. Death seemingly brings a darkness to a beautiful day. Death creates awkwardness. Death stirs up emotions, thoughts, and issues.
Either way, what would you rather have:
Death causing utter chaos and damage relationally, financially, familially, spiritually, structurally, etc. short and long term or
Death causing only grief without ongoing destructive consequences from one avoiding preparation for death?
Have you prepped life insurance? Have you designated beneficiaries (money, assets, etc.)?
Have you provided an emergency plan on paper on display in your home with phone numbers?
Have you discussed with your children regularly about what to do? How often? Try at least once in their lifetime. More so, make it annually as a review of the processes and options in the midst of difficulty. More importantly, integrate life and death discussions in regular, ongoing life.
Mentor others to do so.
Integrate Life Discussions to Real Life
Walk into the grocery store and don't just shop for chicken, fish, steak, hamburger, fruit, or vegetables. Walk and talk with your children about the literal entire process of sales, marketing, store, body hunger and needs, use of food, food processing (goods and bads), death of animals, etc.
Each grocery store with a meat, fruit, and vegetable aisle is a dead zoo on display. Make light of the aisle but bring depth and seriousness to steward, not waste, become grateful for life, and respect death.
Hunters and farmers deal with death every day. They learn to avoid waste, use death purposely, deal with shock, plan ahead for the future, survive emergencies, and learn joy.
Discuss life and death (principles, life cycle, perspectives, real life)
Make plans (short term and long term; next of kin; finances; costs)
Write down plan
Share written plan with trusted people
Explain and review plan with children (regular basis -- monthly, annually, etc.)
Life insurance (if possible; with stated beneficiaries)
Living trust (mostly can avoid probate courts)
Will (basic but might still go through probate court; use if no living trust)
Print out emergency contact list and quick steps to post in the home. Located in a visual area that makes them remember but not forget.
Mentor others to do likewise
One thing that hurts children more than avoiding preparation is lying about death. Don't minimize it. Don't hyperbolize it. Don't use it as a control tactic. Don't avoid it. Don't dwell on it. Affirm what it is. Teach about it. Explain it. Make clear to them what death is.
Children will grow up with a sincere maturity to withstand the tumultuous storms of life. Children will actually love you for it. There's gain through the preparation of pain. Train them up. Prepare them. Teach them. Discuss with them. How? Train them to live, while learning about a part of life, which is death -- but their hope won't be because it's in Jesus who is alive forevermore.
The Best Bedtime Book
Audiobook edition - Female Narrator
The Best Bedtime Book
Audiobook edition - Male Narrator
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