I hear you all saying "but what of Father Christmas? What of the Tooth Fairy? how do you explain them?" and the answer is that I explain them in the same way I explain other beliefs. When DD asked me is the tooth fairy real? I responded by asking her what she thought. She said "I hope she is real, I want her to be real, I don't want her to be YOU!" so I said, well lets hope she is then, there is money under your pillow so maybe she is. Is this lying? (does she KNOW!) maybe, but it works for us. Ditto Father Christmas.
"someone at school said that Father Christmas is your parents"
"yes, they said your parents buy all that stuff in your stocking"
"do you think I buy all that stuff? as well as all the gifts you get round the tree?"
"well......I don't know"
"do you think he's real?"
"do you?" (wowser now she's chucking it right back at me! I've taught her well)
"I've always believed in father Christmas, he brought me toys when I was small, I think that once you don't believe then maybe he stops and sometimes parents then carry on doing it"
"Yes, I think he's real, not the ones in shops though, they aren't real, they are just people dressed up"
So with all this honesty hanging about, talking the 'sex' talk was a breeze, (helped along by Babette Cole and her funny and informative book 'Mummy Laid and Egg') but what about the other great taboo in our western culture........
Now, I know a mum that lied about death so much with her kids as they grew up that I can only assume they will never trust her again, not only (like Phoebe's mum in friends) did she fast forward videos to avoid deaths (such as Bambi's mum's) but when a much loved and very old dog died she told them it was at the hospital, this was 7 years ago, they still ask after the dog "the nurse says she's still too sick to come home" really? after 7 years? (actually because I'm honest I had told my DD that the dog died so she wouldn't ask after the dog, her friend said the dog was at the hospital and my DD piped up "No she's not, she's dead, my mum told me!" so really they are trying to catch the mum out in her big lie but I digress)
So, death, DD has always known that things die. On a purely practical level I told her, things wear out, bodies wear out too, everything dies one day, this is to make room for all the new babies, if no one died, no one could be born, the world would be still, and boring, nothing would change.
We have had pets die, there were tears, and burials. And moving on.
All good. But what happens next........where do we go when we die? Back to the old 'throw the question back' time! Where do you think we go? what do you believe? I've told DD my Christian beliefs. But pointed out that no one 'knows' as no one has ever come back to tell us. So there are lots of things people think; some people think when we die, that's it, just nothing; some people think we come back as someone or something else to live again; some believe in other worlds or places we go to like heaven; or that we stay here but invisible, like ghosts; but they are all just beliefs, no one knows for sure.
DD is happy to believe, and she also thinks maybe (as Terry Pratchett's Death has hinted) we all get what we believe we'll get when we die. (which is not always what we deserve, but there you go) That said, DD and I plan to party in heaven, where there will be pets by the way....this is confirmed by my dad who is a Rev. so he should know! Everyone will; be happy in heaven, if you are not happy without your pet, your pet will be there! so there you go (I'm guessing there may be pet free zones for those that dislike them :-))
When DD tells me that I mustn't die, I never say "I won't" (how silly to promise that!) I always use, "I don't plan on doing it anytime soon", when I or anyone else is sick and she asks if they will die, I rarely say 'no', but usually go with "I doubt it, it's only a cold" or "I hope not, but they are very ill, we must hope the Drs can help them get well". So for me telling the truth is much easier than telling little lies. And so far none have come back to bite me.......
Rainbow Bridge - a Poem about pet loss and where pets go
Christina Rossetti writes the best poetry (in my opinion) about Death
When I am dead, my dearest,
Sing no sad songs for me:
Plant thou no roses at my head,
Nor shady cypress tree:
Be the green grass above me
With showers and dewdrops wet;
And if thou wilt, remember,
And if thou wilt, forget. I shall not see the shadows,
I shall not feel the rain;
I shall not hear the nightingale
Sing on, as if in pain;
And dreaming through the twilight
That doth not rise nor set,
Haply I may remember,
And haply may forget.
From Goblin Market and other poems (1862)
REMEMBERRemember me when I am gone away,
Gone far away into the silent land;
When you can no more hold me by the hand,
Nor I half turn to go yet turning stay.
Remember me when no more day by day
You tell me of our future that you plann'd:
Only remember me; you understand
It will be late to counsel then or pray.
Yet if you should forget me for a while
And afterwards remember, do not grieve:
For if the darkness and corruption leave
A vestige of the thoughts that once I had,
Better by far you should forget and smile
Than that you should remember and be sad.
December 29, 1894