Blog Archives

Discussing death with kids – secular style

Cake AND death!

Now that my little one isn’t quite so snotty/coughy/awake-all-night-y, here’s a quick post for discussion: how do parents who don’t believe in an afterlife talk about death with their kids?

Since Chloe is 8, she’s starting to understand death in a more adult way – like, it’s permanent.  And real – it will happen to everyone she knows, including her.  She had a bad fall and busted up her face pretty good last Friday, and I think that contributed to her pondering this stuff.

I can’t help but pull out a little hope for life everlasting by introducing the concept of transhumanism, but at the same time I feel the need to deal with the idea that one day we’ll just stop, and we won’t be anymore, in any capacity, for eternity.  Luckily Mark Twain has thought of a great quip to cover this most grave of contemplations: “I do not fear death. I had been dead for billions and billions of years before I was born, and had not suffered the slightest inconvenience from it.”

How do you discuss death with your kids?  If you believe in an eternal afterlife, how do you avoid freaking them out with the idea of endless aeons of consciousness?  Because that freaked me right the hell out as a Catholic child!  Before ever reading it, I had intuited the punchline of Stephen King’s story “The Jaunt.”  But perhaps I have always just been far more morbid than the average person.