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A short course of lectures
«Great Answers to Difficult Questions About Death»





I am very ill. Who can I talk to about dying?I do want to find out what happened that day. I want to know the facts.Im so sad. I love my mom and she is dying. I want to help her. What can I do?My mom is dying. What can I do?Nobody wants to talk to me about dying especially my mom and dad. They just cry. How can I make them feel happy?Im scared too. What can I do to feel safe?Why do all the good people like my mom die young? Since Peter died I get lots of headaches. Will I die too?I think 1 will draw green trees with beautiful birds of every color flying in the breeze or perched on a branch. I think I will feel happy when I look at that picture. What else can I do?Who can I talk to about this? Who would understand?My friend Rick says his grandpa wanted to he cremated instead of buried. What does cremation mean?Concluding thoughtWell, living with cancer is hard. Living with it and knowing you might die is even harder. Will you talk about dying with me?Kyle (11; brother killed in drive-by shooting)My mom said Grandma was so good God took her away. Arent I good too? Why doesnt God want me?Can we bury Jasper together?I have my dads wallet. It means a lot to me. Can I make a special place to keep it?My mom picked me up the night she died. Then she had a heart attack. Did that kill my mom?Concluding thoughtAdam (11)My mom had a cold. I didnt make her stay home that day. Is it my fault she died?Tanya (11)How can I help Grandpa?I feel better knowing the truth. Now everything makes sense. Is it wrong to be so angry with my mom?I know. They love to watch me dance. I want them to remember me as a beautiful ballerina, dancing in heaven. Do you think that would make them feel good?Its been so long since Mom died. I still get sad . Why do I miss her so much?What is a memorial service? Can I come?My mom died of cancer. What does cancer mean?Its been three years since my mom died. Why am I still wondering about why she died?Ill put my tape of Dad playing the guitar and a picture of Dad in his army uniform. He was in a rock-and-roll band.I get angry a lot. I feel like punching someone.Sometimes I wonder - when and where will I die?Why am I always so scared?Why did my mom have to die?Honoring children's questionsSometimes I cant remember his voice; or even what he looks like. That scares me. What if I forget my dad?I thought of a project. I would like to help my school have an assembly on drunk driving. Do you think I could tell my story to other children?I think Alex is in heaven. What do you think heaven is like?If my mom is late, is she at the restaurant where Tyrone got murdered?Julian (7)Kate (6)Can I catch it?Im never going to drink and drive. And I won't let my friends. I am so angry. He should be punished. Why wasnt he paying attention? What was he doing? Did he go to jail?Tanya (9)My worry does go right to my tummy. It hurts.Concluding thoughtIs it better to be cremated or buried?Alex (9)Michael (10; dad died in military combat)I think Sam is in heaven with God and they are watching over me. Do you think God is helping Sam in heaven? My mom said my brother Tony died in an accident. A boy at school said he was murdered. How did Tony really die?My brother loved pizza and playing soccer. Do you think he is scoring goals in heaven?If I had a choice, I would like to die at home. But what will I do with all of my stuff?What should we do with Wyatts desk?Ill make a big heart with I LOVE YOU on the bottom. Will I get to see Grandpa again? Where is he?My dad had a cold the day of the attack. Couldnt I have saved him if I made him stay home that day? Why didnt I call him and warn him the terrorists were coming?It helps to get out my anger. I feel stronger now. I drew myself with big muscles and said, This is me now. I am a lot stronger than I thought.Is there anything else our family can do together to remember Dad?Concluding thoughtAPPENDIX 2. For caring adultsWill I forget my dad? What if I forget him? How can I remember?Ill keep the memory box next to my bed and put in Dads old football cards too. It makes me feel close to him to have things he loved.What happens to the body?Dad said she was calling him, not me. But I still should have gotten her the directions. Is it my fault my mom died? How did it make my mom die?Scottie (7; Peter's friend in second grade)Concluding thoughtCan I put in a picture of me? He would like that. Then he wont feel so alone. Lets put his toy in too.Rafi (6)Is it OK to feel like my dad is really at the cemetery?Sophie (8): a case studyI hit a boy on the playground, because I knew he was going to hit me. 1 hit him before he could. Do other children feel like that after something bad happens?Can you tell me about the man who was driving the car? Someone told me he was a drunk driver.Joey (7): a case studyConcluding thoughtWhat does death mean?Concluding thoughtJeremy (9)My sister saved Dads voice on a mobile phone message. My mom has a video of Dad and me. Can I share them with you?I heard my Mom say Grandpa is going to die. That makes me so sad. Is Grandpa really going to die?Concluding thoughtIs it my fault my mom died? Did she suffer?What happened at the accident? Who was the person driving the car? Where did it happen?Concluding thoughtI would have moved Lucky out of the way like this. I wish I could tell him Im sorry. I wonder what he would say?It is hard for me to pay attention in school. I daydream a lot and think I am going to cry when I think about Peter. Then I want to call home. What should I do?It hurts to think about the holidays without Dad. It makes me sad. What can we do to remember Dad at Christmas? What can I do? I still dont understand why she had to die. Can you help me understand why she died?I want to share my picture of Wyatt and me on the junior soccer team. Can I do that?Jonathan (10; Margie's older brother)Sarah (11; Peter's older sister)I would like to give her something special of mine my music box. Is that OK?Arthur (6)Dad said OK to everything and was happy to do it. We even added that Dad would bring me back a surprise. I feel better now. But I still get scared something bad will happen again.Sally (6)Why did my mom die?My grandfather died. Where do they put his body? My doggy Lucky died. Im so sad. He got hit by a car and killed. Can I talk to Lucky?I get so scared when I picture the way my dad died. I cant stop thinking about it. Do you think my dad suffered?Suzie (7; dad killed in terrorist attack)Im afraid I will forget my dad. What can I do to remember him?I worry about my brother a lot. I have nightmares and cant sleep. I keep seeing his house on fire. If he was very injured and died, how did he get to heaven?My brother Max gets angry with me for being ill. He wants my presents. What should I do?We cant protect children from lifes tragedies, but we can ease their journey by responding openly to their questions.Sometimes I think Alex could get lonely in heaven. I hope he has company. Do you think our dog Maxwell is with him? Thats our dog that died.Concluding thoughtEvery time I realize Mom isnt at the restaurant, I feel better. But I still stay up at night and cant stop the bad thoughts. How could this have happened to me? What should I do?Can I say goodbye?Concluding thoughtDid they find the person that shot him?Sometimes I think about Peter at school. I dont feel like eating and my tummy hurts. What should I do?I feel happy now. It feels good to talk about dying and make some plans. Now I feel I can go on living and not worry so much.I like to draw and write. I think about Dad when I am alone and remember a lot. Can I make something about those memories?After my sister died I wanted to know more about God. What is God? What do different people believe?Was she calling me when she died?Alex coached my soccer team and we always got pizza after the game. I think Ill wear his soccer shirt the next time I come. Is that OK?One time I was angry with my mom. I told her I wished she were dead. Did that make it happen?I know. I like the picture of Dad and me making a snowman.A final noteMy mom died in the hospital. I am so sad. I am always looking for her. Is Mom a butterfly that goes by? Is she saying hello?Where is my person? What is heaven?I dont want my dad to go camping. I am afraid he will get killed too. What can we do to help me feel he will he safe?Greg (5): a case studyBut I think the bad guy is at the restaurant with Mom. My dad thinks I should play with my friends the way I used to before Lucky died. But sometimes Im sad and want to be alone. Do you understand?If my mom is with me, is she watching over me all the time? That could be very embarrassing.I dont like to talk about the shooting. That worries my mom. Is it OK?People say heart attack, stroke, drugs, or they just dont know. What really happened?Even though the cemetery feels peaceful, I still cant believe my dad is dead. 1 didnt say goodbye. Can I go to the spot where Dad was killed?I miss Dad so much. Moms angry, Margies sad, and sometimes I cant even talk about it. What can our family do to remember him together?Todays my moms birthday. Why didnt anybody mention her name? That makes me angry.What does terminal mean?My grandma was talking about going to the cemetery to put Grandpas body in a grave. What is a cemetery? Can children go?Dad and Jacks listMy aunt Jenny told me Mom had gone on a long trip.Why didnt she take me with her? And how could she go on a long trip if she died of cancer?But at Peters funeral I heard my aunt say Peter is at rest. That makes me worry about even taking a nap.APPENDIX 1. A checklist for childrenIs my mom coming back?What is a hospice?James (12): a case studyGeorge (6): a case studyWhats wrong with Uncle Adam? Is it my fault?My best friend Beth can have my dolls, and I think my brother Max would like my TV. My little sister Amy can have all of my stuffed animals - all except Tiger. Can I keep Tiger for me?But what happened to Moms body?How can I remember with my friends and family? Can I go to the funeral too?But where does his body go?What can we do with the stuff inside?APPENDIX 3. Useful websites and childrens resourcesSometimes in school I think about Lucky so much I cant pay attention. Then my teacher gets angry with me and calls my mom. What can I tell her?No matter bow much time he spent in prison it wouldnt be enough - not enough to bring back my mom. Can I help stop drunk drivers?My brother Sam was so ill. We took him to the doctors and gave him all of his medicine. How could God still have let him die?I have one question. Can I catch what Peter had?PrefaceEmily (10): a case studyI think every time I see a butterfly, it is my mom saying hello. Is that OK?If only I had made my dad stay home, warned him on the mobile phone, or given him a big ladder to take to work to escape. I could have saved him. Is it my fault he died?How do other kids grieve? Sometimes I feel so aloneI cant even remember my dad. He died when I was 2. My mom says it was an accident. I didnt believe her anymore. Id heard so many stories I decided to look up the facts in the newspaper. It was suicide. How can I ever believe my mom again?How did my dad die?I worry a lot that if Peter can die, my mom and dad can too. What would happen to me? Who would take care of me?What to say and how to say itI wrote my mom a letter and put it in the mailbox. Why doesnt she write back?Tommy (8; dad died of suicide)I want to know more of the facts about why my mom had to die. Can you tell me how to find out the details?I sat on Grandpas bed and held his hand. He smiled at me and I smiled back. Then I squeezed his hand, said I love you, and decided to leave. Was that OK?OK. I think heaven is a place where everyone has a friend. Theres a golden palace that only special people live in. Alex loved coffee so much. Do you think they have coffee shops in heaven?Mary (12; dad died of suicide)Jason (6): a case studyI think a huge fire truck with God as the chief lifted Alex into the clouds and took him to the Alex Rescue Medical Center in heaven. Doctors and nurses gave him bandages, medicine, and his favorite licorice and potato chips. Do you think God is taking care of Alex?I would say, I love you, Lucky" and Lucky would lick my face. I like the sand table and puppets. They help me talk to Lucky.My mom worries about me and says I act different. She thinks something is wrong with me. Im tired a lot and nap with Luckys toy on my bed where he slept with me. Is that OK?I think God is hugging Alex in heaven. He is happy and laughing and has all the medicine he will ever need to feel good.Can Mom and I still do things together?am so angry with God. I hate God. It's Gods fault my dad got hit by a car.Why is it a secret?I love you, Lucky. I miss you a lot. I hope youre having fun and that God plays ball with you every day. Can I still help Lucky?Margie (7): a case studyCommon signs of grieving childrenTanya (6): a case studyWhere was God when I needed him? How could God let my brother die?We shared the banner the last night of the group. I wore Dads favorite purple hat and we brought a pizza for everyone to remember Dad. But how can we remember together at home?What does dead mean? How do people die?But I still have so many nightmares. I wake up screaming and crying. What can I do to stop the worry?Amelia (9)Developmental understandingsI worry a lot. Will I die too? Will you die too?What cant you do when your body doesnt work?Our family went to a support group together. We made a big family banner about Dad and talked about it. Can I show it to you?I cant even say a prayer. I dont believe in God anymore!Sara (5): a case studyI keep imagining what happened. Its scary. Can I get shot?What is a funeral? Can I go?Jack (9): a case studyWhat is AIDS?Im glad I learned my dad wasnt alone and didnt suffer. Its nice to picture him surrounded with people who cared. It helps me not to worry about him so much.I had a dream about my dad after our meeting. Dad was wearing his best uniform and gave me a hug. Do you think that means he is all right?Marc (12): a case studyWe had a class meeting and decided to bake his favorite peanut butter cookies, make a class mural, and create a class quilt. Can you help us with that?The only question I have now is why did God have to kill my dad?Heres my picture. The tank is exploding and Dad is on the ground. Look - he is all alone. Do you think he had help?I miss Wyatt a lot at school. So do my friends. What can we do to remember him at school?Amber (12; Margie's older sister)I like that idea. I want them to take the van. It is the safest. But will they call me?Peter (7): a case studyJulie (6; Peter's younger sister)Will these bad and sad feelings and thoughts ever stop coming?Concluding thoughtJarrett (12): a case studyCan we share memories at the service?I want roast beef, baked potatoes, and cherry pie. It makes everything seem normal again to think about having that dinner with everyone. Mom used to make that for all of us and it was delicious!Since Peter died, I worry about going to sleep. If I sleep I have bad dreams. Will I die if I go to sleep?Can I bring flowers with my I LOVE YOU heart?
 
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