WE’RE ALL GOING TO DIEFeb 21st, 2013 | By Sharon Shaw Elrod MSW EdD | Category: Lifestyle, Health & Fitness
Let’s Talk About Death
A recent New York Times article addressed how to handle the issue of death with children. SCJ editors talked about the article, pondering the topic and raising questions about cultural mores. We began with “Why do we have to have a plan regarding talking about death with children?”
Death is one of those topics, like sex, that seems to have no place at the family dinner table, let alone in more casual conversation. We avoid talking about death, like we avoid dealing with its reality. We even create euphemisms like, ‘passing’ or ‘pass away’ or ‘demise’ or ‘expire’. And not only do we not talk about death with children, we don’t discuss it much with adults.
So why is the avoidance mechanism so strong when it comes to talking about death. Our best guess is that the finality of death keeps us perpetually avoiding the reality. A life ending, without sure knowledge (other than faith) about what happens next, puts most seniors in an avoidance pattern. It’s like, if I don’t talk about it, then maybe it won’t happen. Not.
Death-Talk With Friends
We have a life-long friend dying from leukemia and old age. This editor traveled to see her a few weeks ago, both of us knowing she was dying and both of us wanting to see each other just one more time. We reminisced, we laughed and we cried together. That final goodbye is so difficult. But it is also very loving and (for us) very necessary. We had to let each other know, just one more time, how much the other meant to us for so many years. I told her her spirit would be in my heart forever. We said goodbye.
Death means goodbye, the final goodbye. I told my close friends, my family and especially my grandchildren what was happening with my dear friend. They all had questions. They wanted to talk with me about my friend. Some conversations were short, and some were not.
We seniors need to put our own discomfort about death aside and be willing to bring it out of the closet. Call it what it is. Death. If your grandchildren or friends/family ask, let them know what your belief system says about life after death. Share your thinking about it.
The only way we will learn to help our grandchildren understand death is to talk about it with them. We seniors need to lead the way when it comes to this issue.