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

Whats wrong with Uncle Adam? Is it my fault?I do want to find out what happened that day. I want to know the facts.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?Tanya (6): a case studyWhat is a hospice?am so angry with God. I hate God. It's Gods fault my dad got hit by a car.Julian (7)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?Is there anything else our family can do together to remember Dad?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?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.Can Mom and I still do things together?Is it better to be cremated or buried?My 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?Ill make a big heart with I LOVE YOU on the bottom. Will I get to see Grandpa again? Where is he?Jonathan (10; Margie's older brother)Can we bury Jasper together?Mary (12; dad died of suicide)But I still have so many nightmares. I wake up screaming and crying. What can I do to stop the worry?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?Dad and Jacks listNo 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?What should we do with Wyatts desk?My brother loved pizza and playing soccer. Do you think he is scoring goals in heaven?Since Peter died I get lots of headaches. Will I die too?I feel better knowing the truth. Now everything makes sense. Is it wrong to be so angry with my mom?I get angry a lot. I feel like punching someone.I would have moved Lucky out of the way like this. I wish I could tell him Im sorry. I wonder what he would say?Concluding thoughtWhere is my person? What is heaven?Adam (11)I worry a lot. Will I die too? Will you die too?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.It hurts to think about the holidays without Dad. It makes me sad. What can we do to remember Dad at Christmas? Im scared too. What can I do to feel safe?Tanya (11)Sometimes I think about Peter at school. I dont feel like eating and my tummy hurts. What should I do?Why do all the good people like my mom die young? Todays my moms birthday. Why didnt anybody mention her name? That makes me angry.I 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?Suzie (7; dad killed in terrorist attack)Arthur (6)How did my dad die?Im afraid I will forget my dad. What can I do to remember him?I have my dads wallet. It means a lot to me. Can I make a special place to keep it?Developmental understandingsI want to know more of the facts about why my mom had to die. Can you tell me how to find out the details?George (6): a case studyCan I catch it?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.APPENDIX 3. Useful websites and childrens resourcesOur 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?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?People say heart attack, stroke, drugs, or they just dont know. What really happened?Peter (7): a case studyAmber (12; Margie's older sister)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?Concluding thoughtJeremy (9)How can I remember with my friends and family? Can I go to the funeral too?Sometimes I wonder - when and where will I die?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 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?Concluding thoughtMy mom picked me up the night she died. Then she had a heart attack. Did that kill my mom?Where was God when I needed him? How could God let my brother die?What happened at the accident? Who was the person driving the car? Where did it happen?I wrote my mom a letter and put it in the mailbox. Why doesnt she write back?Kyle (11; brother killed in drive-by shooting)What does terminal mean?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?But where does his body go?PrefaceIf my mom is with me, is she watching over me all the time? That could be very embarrassing.I have one question. Can I catch what Peter had?Concluding thoughtMy mom is dying. What can I do?My grandfather died. Where do they put his body? My brother Max gets angry with me for being ill. He wants my presents. What should I do?Sometimes 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?Every 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?I miss Wyatt a lot at school. So do my friends. What can we do to remember him at school?How did it make my mom die?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?Can I bring flowers with my I LOVE YOU heart?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.My mom died of cancer. What does cancer mean?My mom said my brother Tony died in an accident. A boy at school said he was murdered. How did Tony really die?Can I put in a picture of me? He would like that. Then he wont feel so alone. Lets put his toy in too.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?Why did my mom have to die?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?Common signs of grieving childrenScottie (7; Peter's friend in second grade)Honoring children's questionsMargie (7): a case studyWe cant protect children from lifes tragedies, but we can ease their journey by responding openly to their questions.Jack (9): a case studyAmelia (9)What happens to the body?I would like to give her something special of mine my music box. Is that OK?Concluding thoughtHow do other kids grieve? Sometimes I feel so aloneI 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?Joey (7): a case studyI 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?What to say and how to say itIf my mom is late, is she at the restaurant where Tyrone got murdered?What cant you do when your body doesnt work?Alex (9)James (12): a case studyEmily (10): a case studyDad said she was calling him, not me. But I still should have gotten her the directions. Is it my fault my mom died? 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?A final noteI think Sam is in heaven with God and they are watching over me. Do you think God is helping Sam in heaven? 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.Was she calling me when she died?I 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?My friend Rick says his grandpa wanted to he cremated instead of buried. What does cremation mean?Sarah (11; Peter's older sister)Tommy (8; dad died of suicide)Concluding thoughtCan we share memories at the service?Is it OK to feel like my dad is really at the cemetery?Concluding thoughtI get so scared when I picture the way my dad died. I cant stop thinking about it. Do you think my dad suffered?Heres my picture. The tank is exploding and Dad is on the ground. Look - he is all alone. Do you think he had help?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?I know. I like the picture of Dad and me making a snowman.What is a memorial service? Can I come?Can you tell me about the man who was driving the car? Someone told me he was a drunk driver.Since Peter died, I worry about going to sleep. If I sleep I have bad dreams. Will I die if I go to sleep?My doggy Lucky died. Im so sad. He got hit by a car and killed. Can I talk to Lucky?I heard my Mom say Grandpa is going to die. That makes me so sad. Is Grandpa really going to die?Concluding thoughtWhat can we do with the stuff inside?Well, living with cancer is hard. Living with it and knowing you might die is even harder. Will you talk about dying with me?After my sister died I wanted to know more about God. What is God? What do different people believe?Sara (5): a case studyWhat does dead mean? How do people die?What can I do? I still dont understand why she had to die. Can you help me understand why she died?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?Jarrett (12): a case studyIts been three years since my mom died. Why am I still wondering about why she died?Concluding thoughtConcluding thoughtI 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!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 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?If I had a choice, I would like to die at home. But what will I do with all of my stuff?Julie (6; Peter's younger sister)Will I forget my dad? What if I forget him? How can I remember?What does death mean?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 want to share my picture of Wyatt and me on the junior soccer team. Can I do that?My mom had a cold. I didnt make her stay home that day. Is it my fault she died?Kate (6)Nobody wants to talk to me about dying especially my mom and dad. They just cry. How can I make them feel happy?Sally (6)Tanya (9)Michael (10; dad died in military combat)Im so sad. I love my mom and she is dying. I want to help her. What can I do?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?APPENDIX 1. A checklist for childrenOne time I was angry with my mom. I told her I wished she were dead. Did that make it happen?Its been so long since Mom died. I still get sad . Why do I miss her so much?But I think the bad guy is at the restaurant with Mom. What is AIDS?My grandma was talking about going to the cemetery to put Grandpas body in a grave. What is a cemetery? Can children go?I think every time I see a butterfly, it is my mom saying hello. Is that OK?Can I say goodbye?Is my mom coming back?But what happened to Moms body?I am very ill. Who can I talk to about dying?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.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?What is a funeral? Can I go?Concluding thoughtThe only question I have now is why did God have to kill my dad?Did they find the person that shot him?Why is it a secret?Who can I talk to about this? Who would understand?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?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?Greg (5): a case studyIs it my fault my mom died? Did she suffer?But at Peters funeral I heard my aunt say Peter is at rest. That makes me worry about even taking a nap.Rafi (6)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?APPENDIX 2. For caring adultsSometimes I cant remember his voice; or even what he looks like. That scares me. What if I forget my dad?Sophie (8): a case studyMy worry does go right to my tummy. It hurts.I cant even say a prayer. I dont believe in God anymore!I like that idea. I want them to take the van. It is the safest. But will they call me?My 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?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?I dont like to talk about the shooting. That worries my mom. Is it OK?Why did my mom die?My mom said Grandma was so good God took her away. Arent I good too? Why doesnt God want me?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?Jason (6): a case studyI think Alex is in heaven. What do you think heaven is like?Concluding thoughtWill these bad and sad feelings and thoughts ever stop coming?How can I help Grandpa?Why am I always so scared?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?I keep imagining what happened. Its scary. Can I get shot?
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