Anyways, I guess by 'normal' I mean that it would be nice not to have to explain my child's obsession with talking about death. At the playground a scrapped knee turns into "Oh no there's blood! I don't wanna go to Heaven mom!" Wow! Oh my, we've got some talking to do.... In the meantime, how much info do I need to give to calm him down? "No honey, you aren't going to die." But also, how much is too much?
An interesting lunch time conversation went something like this....
"well I'm a grown up so that means I'm all done growing."
a few moments later he says,
"mom, you're going to be the first to die....."
"oh really, why do you say that?"
As I'm completely terrified for a second, thinking.......
Holy shit! Even his tone of voice was on point, this kid could act in horror movies.
Oh my God, is he going to kill me in my sleep!?!?"Sleep with one eye open, bitch!"
"because, you're a grown up, so you'll die first..." Still totally deadpan, as if this is nothing more than a fact....
"Oh, well....I am a grown up, but I'm not so old.... I might live a very long time yet, maybe until I'm even a hundred years old!"
Who has to have these conversations with their children? From what I can tell it's only other families who've experienced death in their immediate families, and for little guys it's just so frank. So much less emotional, especially if they were too young to really remember the person or if they person they lost was a baby that they never really had the opportunity to know. They understand that there is sadness and sometimes anger and frustration, and that the sadness is associated with a death. And so there are questions about death and so much conversation.
Sometimes it's very uncomfortable, but sometimes I wonder if it isn't a better preparation for the real world than families who make death a taboo thing to talk about. It is, after all, a normal part of life.
Oliver was two and a half when we lost Max, I didn't think it had a huge impact on him.... but over time I realized that in small ways he was communicating things to me as he could. For the first six months or so he was upset if anyone so much as sniffled, we all got a cold that winter and whenever I blew my nose he was worried that 'mama sad?'. It's been a struggle for me, learning that he certainly picked up more than I thought he did about our experience losing Max. It comes out in bits and pieces and as he brings things up I've been learning to let him talk and try to answer his questions while being very reassuring about death. We've spent a lot of time emphasizing that most people don't die until they are very old.... and wondering about just how much he worries about this kind of thing.