“Mommy, I don’t want to die!” I could taste the fear in my son’s voice.
“Sweetie, you aren’t going to die.”
“But mommy, little kids die. I’m a little kid.”
Where did this come from, anyway?
I deal with death a lot. I have always been at peace with it in the clinical setting. I grieve, but there is peace.
I attended my first funeral at age four when my little friend from church nursery died from a degenerative neuromuscular disorder of some sort. I had seen her waste away over the months and I remember being terribly sad for her that she could not run or walk or even feed herself anymore. Even then I imagined that she was probably pretty happy about not being in a wheelchair even if she did miss her mommy and daddy. I didn’t cry when she died.
Now, as an adult, with my own mortality creeping up on me, deaths of friends and social acquaintances can hit me pretty hard.
So what to do about my son right now? How honest am I supposed to be with a four year old about death and dying?
I decided on being open about it. “Yes, hon, babies die and little kids die.”
“But mommy, I don’t want to die…” The sob was starting to edge into his voice.
So we talked about dying, how mommy has been with many people, even kids, as they were dying, what happens and why and that one way or another mommy would be with him if that ever happened.
Then, we talked about heaven. Streets paved with gold, pearly gates, mansions…he wasn’t digging it. I thought he might, given the fact he was in the midst of his pirate obsession, but nope. So I told him there would be corn dogs…all of the corn dogs he could eat (with ketchup) if he wanted. That was the ticket. Within two minutes he had relaxed and drifted off to sleep.
So there you have it, folks. Corn dogs. Corn dogs in heaven? I think heaven HAS to be different things for different people. For my son it will have corn dogs.
Do you believe in heaven? What will heaven look like for you?
If this looks familiar, you are not crazy. It is a rewrite of an old post from last year…