As we were hiking in Sedona, the kiddos and I had a great discussion about life and death. They both wanted to know how I knew there was another life (or just plain life itself) after death. So we talked a bit about faith, and then I mentioned nature. I told them we can see the cycle of life and death around us, and from that, we can draw conclusions (which we won't know for sure are correct, of course, until we experience them) about how things work. They both brought up aspects of nature -- deciduous trees losing their leaves, the water cycle, apples and their seeds -- and together, we compared them.
Death is such a tough concept, even for those of us who've had it touch our lives. It might seem like a strange thing to think about at the start of a year, but really, it's natural. The new year comes about through the 'death' of the old. Even though my kiddos are young and haven't seen death themselves, I think they were unusually aware of it after my gramma's 95th birthday celebration.
She is completely at peace with the next stage in her life. She isn't afraid; she's seen her siblings leave (only two of eight remain with her here); she's seen her husband leave. And she has faith that all will work out well, for her good.
I can hope that her death will be the first my kiddos experience. Knowing death as the end of a long, beautiful life here -- and seeing someone they love welcome the next adventure with a peaceful smile -- is a positive way to begin to understand the cycle of life. It's so much more challenging when death comes quickly, angrily, or with pain and suffering...but I hope I can help them see and accept the intrinsic harmony within life -- a harmony which has to include death for rebirth and starting anew.
How do you help those younger (or even those around you who struggle with fear of death) with the cycle of life?