Teaching Children About Death

In a discussion on my blog regarding teaching kids about death, one of my readers commented that he uses a book called Lifetimes, by Bryan Mellonie. He explained that the book describes the lifetimes of various living things and focuses on the life that happens in between birth and death.

He explained, “I tell my kids that they do continue, not only in the life matter and lineage cycle, but as part of the world/universe per se. ‘The world produced life and us along with it. We are not separate from it. Like a drop of water taken from the ocean and returned, when we die we return to the world. There is no place else to go. Whatever we are has always been and will always be a part of it.’”

My reader then explained the results. “If you ask either of them what happens when they die, they will tell you, ‘We go back to the world.’”

Another reader gave this idea. “One thing that helped with my kids was the concept of the circle of life. I asked them to think about what would happen if no one died but we kept having babies. They figured out pretty quickly that this was not a good option. Then I told them that one of the most wonderful things ever in my life was having them, and they agreed that having babies was something they wanted to do one day. The only other option, then, was to have death occur in order to make room for new babies.”

I love these ideas of using positive concepts when talking about death in general.

Our children need to see us deal with death. I do not hide them from it (unless it is particularly gruesome) when they hear about someone dying. We discuss how sad it is, and then I focus the conversation on that person’s life before he died.

We can talk with our children about the sadness that we feel when a person leaves us. We can talk about the love we had for that person, about the joy she gave us, the fact that she made us laugh or made us think. And we can talk about the joy our loved one had while she was here.


Various strategies for secularists to teach children this fact of life.

Folksonomies: death parenting atheism

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/family and parenting/babies and toddlers (0.326103)

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Bryan Mellonie:Person (0.877889 (negative:-0.295189)), one day:Quantity (0.877889 (neutral:0.000000))

Life (0.954270): dbpedia | freebase
Death (0.684352): dbpedia | freebase | opencyc
Personal life (0.516687): dbpedia | freebase
Idea (0.503226): dbpedia | freebase | opencyc
Thought (0.447770): dbpedia | freebase | opencyc
Concept (0.395156): dbpedia | freebase | opencyc
Childbirth (0.381163): dbpedia | freebase
Sadness (0.371582): dbpedia | freebase | opencyc

 The End, As We Know It
Books, Brochures, and Chapters>Book Chapter:  Hyman, Noell (2007), The End, As We Know It, Retrieved on 2012-03-28
Folksonomies: parenting atheism