Seeing this title I Am sure some of us shall will just scroll away without reading the content. Because death is a topic which upsets us and discussing this with young minds is something we would better avoid since as mothers we would never want to see our kids unhappy. But then we feel the prick when our kids have to deal with a death of close member in family whether of grandparents, parents, sibling or any other relatives. then there are the usual issues of children going in sadness ,depression ,fear or developing bizarre ideas of death.
At times to pacify kids as well as of our own ignorance some parents say strange things .Like as a child I remember all my friends had weird notions about death. Some friends would say my Grandpa is just sleeping but under the ground .At times they felt dead people become stars in the sky . Some of my muslim friends had parents who had really innovated new things like people who die come back to their homes on Thursday.I still remember visiting one of such a friends house on Thursday and she said,” You know every thursday my grandmother comes to house in different forms.” Suddenly a butterfly came flying and sat on her father’s hand. The whole family exclaimed with moist eyes, “ Grandma is come!” And I just looked on as to what connection this poor butterfly had with the grandmother . My friend’s father had such hairy hands which could be a soft abode for any insects to sit or play on.LOL. For this I think we should first educate ourselves about concept of death in Islam.
Its important to keep the children’s age in mind while explaining to them about death
For Ages 3-5 yr old:
- Preschool children mostly see death as temporary,and images in cartoon like ghosts and spirits.
- Use concrete language, such as “die,” not words like sleep or he died of old age or died because of getting very sick. Such kids may develop fear of sleep,or will be confused on seeing a young person dying or may fear death when sick.
- Death can be explained with relating it to simple objects like flowers, butterflies etc. Life cycle can be explained .Most of preschool Children do not process bad news in the same way that adults do. Adults understand the permanence of death immediately, so we respond with tears. Children, especially pre-schoolers may not understand the permanence of death right away, so they may not have a strong initial reaction to bad news.
For ages 5-9 yrs old:
- Most children are beginning to see that all living things eventually die and that death is final. They tend to not relate it to themselves and consider the idea that they can escape it. They may associate images with death, such as a skeleton. Some children have nightmares about them.
- They may question a lot .. For instance, a question such as, “When will you die?” needs to be heard with the realisation that the young child perceives death as temporary
- If Your child is to attend a funeral, they need to be prepared beforehand for what they might see and hear before, during and after the service. Explain that it is a very sad occasion and that some people will be crying and others feeling very sad.
- I would highly recommend the book Grandpa Passes Away which is a book featuring young Zayd and his family. He loses his grandfather but learns how to cope with this natural phenomenon. The title is not as sad as it may sound at first. Infact this book explains in a simple manner death,funeral rites and is comforting for kids. It has information targeted especially for this age group .Its available online at http://www.theislamickidstore.com/collections/story-books/products/grandpa-passes-away
- Trying to shelter children from these realities only denies them from the opportunity to express their feelings and be comforted. Sharing feelings between you and your child will benefit you both.
- Console them . For example, “Aunt Sara will pick you up from school like Grandma used to.” Or, “I need to stay with Grandpa for a few days. That means you and Dad will be home taking care of each other. But I’ll talk to you every day, and I’ll be back on Sunday.”Children can feel insecure during heavy or serious conversation. They may want to get back to normal as soon as possible. This may mean returning quickly to the game they were playing or the TV show they were watching. This doesn’t mean the child didn’t hear or understand. Parents can join the child in the activity in order to be there when questions arise.
- They know more about how the body works, so they may have specific questions about how someone dies. Use visual aids they can understand.Make specific references to organs like heart and lungs.
- Make clear that death is not like the images in cartoons.
- Make clear to siblings that what happened to a brother or sister doesn’t happen to everyone
For 10+ yrs old
- 10+year-olds understand the permanence of death:
- They know that death is final and will happen to everyone including themselves.
- They understand that their own death or the death of a sibling will cause sadness in others. A sick child at this age may say he has to hold on for his parents’ sake.
- They will respond more like adults with anger, sadness, and fear.
- They will have increasingly more specific questions about the illness and about death and They can find information on their own.
- Find opportunities for constructive venting of feelings, such as sibling groups at islamic centers
- Provide as much specific, factual information as possible.
- Don’t be hurt when teenagers seek the support of their friends more than their parents.
- Let them listen to lectures of Islamic speakers especially of those who more youth relate too.
- Take them along to any islamic centers where they can meet teens of their age or send them to islamic camps.