If Prayers Were Horses, Grievers Would Ride

March 11, 2010

Emilia wants to know what happens when we die. She asks a few times a week, on average, sometimes more, sometimes less, depending on whether or not we’ve spoken about my dad or about Tanner or about dinosaurs. Today, she asked because they’d been talking about the Easter story at school. She wanted to know why Jesus got to fly up into the sky, and Grandpa didn’t.

You burned him, didn’t you? she asks. How could he fly after that?

Explaining death is one thing. Explaining the cremation, the afterlife and Divine resurrection are something else entirely.

We’ve had a lot of these talks. We’ve been having them since my dad died, since she watched me collapse and shatter into a million tiny pieces and wanted to know why. They’ve been good talks, but I fear that they’ve been better for me than they have for her: she has grounded me with her questions, and given me solace with her answers. Because she has her own answers, she pulls them from the sky or the stars or the spirits or her soul and she lays them bare and shares them with me, her stories, the stories that she weaves to make sense of all this mysterious loss, this loss that I can’t explain, lapsed, struggling Catholic that I am, groping for a faith that eludes.

This is why I am failing at this: I have no answers for her. I have no answers, only wishes, only hopes, only deeply held hopes that I ache to grasp with certainty, but which remain – for me, who is grasping at that lost faith, that faith that once upon a time held answers – ephemeral, evanescent, faint. So when she asks me, where did Grandpa go, I say, I think that he went to a place called Heaven, a wonderful place full of love and light where we will someday see him again, and I cry as I say it, because I don’t know for sure, and I wish with every particle of my soul that I did know, that I could know, because I would give anything to know, anything. And she says, in the softest of voices, I know where he is. He’s in his Death House, the one that I made him, and someday we will go there.

– Oh, sweetie…

I know that you think he’s in that box, but he’s not, he’s in his house in Heaven, and we’ll go there someday, and you’ll see, and you’ll know.

And my heart expands, and breaks.


My friend Kate, who has known terrible loss, wrote the other day about thumb-wrestling with Death as she prepares for the death of her grandmother. She didn’t like doing it, she said, not least because he has longer thumbs, which I imagine is true. She asked her readers to not leave condolences, but, instead, memories, of their mothers, whose flour-dusted hands wiped tears and whose lipsticked mouths left kiss-marks and whose warm arms were the safest place in either earth or Heaven, so that we might reflect upon motherhood persisting against and beyond death, and I said this:

I have nightmares, about losing my mom, about losing my mom after losing my dad and being left, alone, without them, an orphan, my longest and most deeply held fear. I have nightmares, about fighting with Death, about begging him to stay away.

I’m sorry. I wanted to say something lovely, about my mom’s belly laugh and her twinkling eyes and her perverse imagination, the one that conjures alligators in closets for my daughter to hunt and her ability to bake a lemon cake, right on the spot, just because you asked. But I’ve been having nightmares.

I have been having nightmares, nightmares wherein my dad is already gone and then my mom goes too and I am left to suffer the pain of my greatest fear, the fear that drove me to sleep on their bedroom floor at night, the fear that kept me from sleepover parties and sleep-away camp, the fear of losing them, of being left alone, an orphan. When I was child, my good Catholic parents would comfort me and soothe me and brush my hair from my tear-dampened cheeks and tell me that they would never leave me and I clung to that, even as I knew it to be false, I clung to it, and when I flew west to deal with my father’s death some months ago (an eternity ago, a second ago) I sat in my seat on the plane and cried and cried and cried like the little girl that I had suddenly become again, having flashed backwards in time to that experience of knowing that it would happen and that it would hurt, bad, worse than anything else I could imagine, and then flashed forward again to discover that yes, yes, this is exactly how it feels, and it is terrible, horrible and bad.

And so now I am terrified of having the loss compounded. And I am terrified of communicating – directly or indirectly, intentionally or not – this terror to Emilia, who is too astute, who knows too well when I am sad or afraid and who knows the difference between my sadness and my fear and wants to understand them. But I don’t want her to understand them, I don’t want her to think about losing me, because I want to forestall this pain for her, even as I shudder at its inevitability.

I have nightmares. And my only solace – my lifesaver, my heartsaver, the backbone of my soul armor – is, really, my daughter and her kindergarten theology, her insistence that it will all be okay, that we will all end up at happy place, that she knows this, because we must, because it is true.

I hold her to me tightly, and weep for this, in gratitude and shame.

nikon - 2010 103

Are there horses in Heaven? — I don’t know; what do you think? — Did Grandpa love horses? — He did. — Then there are horses there. Someday, I will ride them.

– Me too, sweetie. Me too.


This post was inspired by a discussion that was shared between me and some very good friends – Lindsay, Loralee, Julie and Devra – at Mom 2.0. We curled up on the floor of the bedroom of the Four Season’s Presidential Suite during the CheeseBurgHer party and talked spirituality and faith, grief and loss, prayer and meditation and all variety of confused and confusing things. And then Lindsay decided that maybe we should explore some these questions (like the one I’m struggling with above, talking to kids about death) together, on our blogs. So we are. You’re welcome to join in. Leave me a link if you do. Or just speak your piece in the comments. Talking, maybe, will bring enlightenment. Or maybe more confusion. Either/or.

So: how do you talk to your children about death? Do you talk to your children about death? If they ask the hard questions, how do you/will you answer? Or do you, will you, like me, seek their answers, and look for comfort there?

PS: I offer another, somewhat less morose reflection on navigating the waters of loss with children over at Their Bad Mother. Because once I start talking, I can’t stop.

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    Emily March 11, 2010 at 12:55 am

    I’m not sure I have anything super deep or enlightening to add. Your post was raw, honest, beautiful. There’s something to be said about the faith of children. They really are the strongest believers among us. I say let your daughter hold your hand and guide you through this experience. You are not alone. You have Emilia.
    .-= Emily´s last blog ..Wordless Wednesday: Quinn, Michelle & Cupcake Chic =-.

    Her Bad Mother March 11, 2010 at 12:25 pm

    And she is such a gracious guide. I *am* blessed.

    Loralee March 11, 2010 at 6:55 pm

    “She is such a gracious guide”

    I. LOVE. THAT.

    I had to cry a bit before responding to this post today even though I read this hours ago, Catherine. Your posts almost always rip my heart open in that really good way.

    I just..TREASURE YOU.

    .-= Loralee´s last blog ..“No, you can’t dig up your brother”: Tough things I’ve had to think about and discuss with my children (and myself) about religion and death.` =-.

    Stone Fox March 11, 2010 at 1:01 am

    my son still asks, after a year and a half, if nana is in heaven. if she is an angel and if she has her wings. if she is watching over him and can she see him all the time?

    he also wants to know if angels can talk; and if they can, why can’t nana talk to him? how far is heaven? is it past the space rocks and jupiter? he says he wants to see nana but he doesn’t want to go to heaven for a bery bery long time.

    most days i feel peace with my mother’s passing; other days it is hard to talk about. as much as it hurts on those days, i still love to hear my son’s 5 year old fantastical version of heaven (complete with houses and music). i can’t tell him he’s wrong; it’s not like i have any proof to the contrary.
    .-= Stone Fox´s last blog ..Princess-isms and Brownies Plus!! =-.

    Her Bad Mother March 11, 2010 at 12:27 pm

    Emilia’s heaven has houses and music and motorcycles and cats and dinosaurs, and hearing her describe is such solace on those days that you describe, the days of hurt.

    And yes, without proof to the contrary, who are we to say that there aren’t dinosaurs in heaven?

    badness jones March 11, 2010 at 8:32 am

    My dad survived cancer, quadruple by-pass surgery, and now he is struggling with congestive heart failure. We don’t have a timeline, but I know it’s inevitable. And I know how lucky I am to have had him this long. My husband lost his dad when he was only 5, and his memories are wispy ghosts, and he doesn’t know if they are real or imagined. So I tell myself I’m lucky, but I’m terrified. My dad was the strongest man on earth, and watching him weaken is terrifying, but losing him? I can’t let my mind go there. My grandmother died this summer, and it was peaceful. My children said good-bye the day before, and then they came to the funeral. My son, 2 1/2, told me he was going to kiss everyone better. And as my great aunt Sonja, my grandmother’s SIL and one of her oldest friendsd, walked past with tears in her eyes, Sam lunged from my arms, and wrapped his around her. He took her face in his tiny hands and he kissed her. He kissed her better. He’d never met her before, and he is usually so shy with strangers. That moment, my great-aunts gasp of shock and joy, is burned into my heart and soul. Maybe these children do know about heaven. I hope so.
    .-= badness jones´s last blog ..Happy Neck =-.

    Her Bad Mother March 11, 2010 at 12:28 pm

    I think that children just might know something that we don’t. If only we could slow ourselves down long enough to really listen to them – and maybe believe them…

    Keyona March 11, 2010 at 8:57 am

    I try not to push my beliefs directly to my daughter (6) but instead ask her what she thinks happens. She believes that we all become angels when we die. And I’m ok with that.
    .-= Keyona´s last blog ..Question Of The Week =-.

    Her Bad Mother March 11, 2010 at 12:29 pm

    Has she asked you yet what angels are? Emilia and I had an awkward discussion about that that involved Tinkerbell…

    Eliza March 11, 2010 at 9:35 am

    Blessings of peace to you, everyday, HBM. I am so very sorry that your mind and heart continue to be stressed over your father’s death, questions about the afterlife and the ongoing waves of grief.

    My worldview of our soul could not be contained in a religion. Studies and personal experiences in shamanic practices have brought me further into a place of peace around understanding our souls, the nature of an afterlife and the return to earth again.

    The seeds of this understanding was started by my mother, who helped me first learn about heaven as a young child. Two grand parents left in the year I was 6. I don’t recall what was said at that time. My last grandparent left the year I was turning 11. I got to see her body before the funeral service. Mother prepared my younger brother and I by saying: “…this is going to be a different visit to your Nana. This is her body. Her soul is with god in heaven.” Thus, we discussed how to dress Nana’s arm which was pressed up against the back of the coffin in a way which distressed the undertaker, who was looking after his aunt’s body.

    40 years later, when I informed my mother that Dad had passed overnight, she thought about it for a moment in her demented mind, and said firmly: “His soul will live forever!” I agreed. The soul does live on and on and on. It is not destroyed.

    The great joke of this life on earth is that we do not usually recall our experiences on the other side of inhabiting this body. Little people recall much about ‘over there’ because they are not yet fully modeling themselves after the culture they are being raised in. Yes, please, learn from the wisdom of your lovely Emilia.

    Thank you for bringing this topic up for many to ponder and to share our mana`o (thoughts). For those of us sprinkled about the planet, to share in the discussion when we cannot sleep, it is most helpful to distract my brain and emotions from the topic keeping me from sleep.

    Maluhia – Peace
    .-= Eliza´s last blog ..2010 Aries Ingress aka Spring Equinox =-.

    Her Bad Mother March 11, 2010 at 12:30 pm

    And thank you for sharing yours. Peace to you, too :)

    Asa's Mummy March 11, 2010 at 10:50 am

    Disclaimer: I’m a pastor, used to be a hospice chaplain, and recently became a mother. And I have no answers for you.

    Honestly, the more I talk to people about death and grief and everything that goes with them, the more I come to believe that answers are not really what we need. That we are in a culture that seeks concrete answers, that looks on all that we experience in terms of science and reason and logic. And we try to squeeze faith into this paradigm. We look for proof, for yes/no answers, for the certainty that Emilia expresses so beautifully. (Is it any wonder that Jesus said we must become as children?)

    I whisper to my seven-month-old son that I will never be far away, and wonder if I can keep that promise. But then I think of my beloved grandmother, who died when I was 25. In some ways, I still (nearly 8 years later) can’t imagine life without her. Yet I feel more confident in my promise to my son when I realize that Gramma is still very near me, that I still hear her voice, that I can still talk to her and know what she would say – even when it might not be what I want to hear. Where is she? I can’t say. To me, that place (like God) is so far outside of human comprehension that whatever images I might have, whatever words I might try to use, can’t even scratch the surface of what IS.

    It’s not scientific. It’s not an answer. It’s just what my faith, my experience, leads me to.

    I wish you peace in your seeking, comfort in your grief, and joy in the presence of your wonderful children.

    Her Bad Mother March 11, 2010 at 12:32 pm

    “I realize that Gramma is still very near me, that I still hear her voice, that I can still talk to her and know what she would say – even when it might not be what I want to hear.”

    Yes, yes: THIS. For me, in sometimes brings peace. Other times, it brings hurt, because that nearness is not near enough. But it IS, I know that. I do. So does Emilia, apparently.

    Rashel March 11, 2010 at 11:01 am

    I do have my own personal way of explaining death to my children that is based on what I believe but I know that because my beliefs are not necessarily someone else’s I don’t think it’s useful to share that. We must each find our own way, our own truth, and share that.

    What I want to say is simply that I have the same nightmares, they keep me up sometimes. I haven’t lost my parents but I worry, sometimes overly, that my children will die, or that I will die, and my heart breaks at the thought. What do we do? Go on … And ((hug)) each other as loving, concerned Mamas. And have these conversations.

    Thank you.

    Her Bad Mother March 11, 2010 at 12:37 pm

    I see your point, although as someone who is struggling with her beliefs I actually find it helpful and inspiring to hear the beliefs of others. Some resonate, some don’t, but all are valuable in our quests for understanding, I think.

    (((hug))) to you.

    kelly (@kblogger) March 11, 2010 at 11:07 am

    I think its okay to tell her what brings you comfort & let her know this is what you believe. Let her know you think its okay for her to believe what she believes.

    I believe its good to let her lead the discussion by asking her what she thinks & why.

    I don’t see any real reason to tell her grandpa is NOT in the house she created or that he IS in heaven – because do we really know? If the house she created, for her, is comforting to believe he’s there, then why not; couldn’t his energy be as in that drawing, because she’s put so much heart into it?

    Certainly, you don’t have to say, oh yes, he’s definitely living in that piece of paper, there he is; but the house she created from a place of love, as a way of comforting herself – how is that any less real or true than saying grandpa is in heaven & we’ll all ride horses with him one day or grandpa is dead and dead is gone? I think saying what you believe and asking her / being accepting of what she believes – that’s the best way since in death, uncertainty and self comfort through imagining the possibilities – particularly because we just. don’t. know. – is really, okay.

    I wrote a post last year, after our dog Haley died, and my oldest (5yrs) asked me about her…
    At least it can give you a sense of where I’m coming from with my own spirituality – and on some level I have struggled with what you are.

    I’m sending you thoughts of peace.
    .-= kelly (@kblogger)´s last blog ..The First Signs of Spring =-.

    Her Bad Mother March 11, 2010 at 12:38 pm

    I will certainly go read it – reading/hearing about others’ spiritual struggles is a help and a comfort to me. Thank you :)

    Brittany at Mommy Words March 11, 2010 at 11:11 am

    God I am crying in the bagel shop. I share your fear and have been writing (failing to write) lately about preparing for the death of someone close to you and how to deal with this in terms of Sophia, who is 3 1/2.

    She doesn’t fully grasp what death is, and considers it to be a long absence. I don’t think she knows that it is a permanent physical absence.

    She has friends who have lost their grandma or grandpa and so she asks about her own. We, like you, talk about heaven but my heart is stuck in my throat. If my mother, my best friend, died, I would not know where the days begin or end. I feel despair thinking about it.

    Then Sophia climbs in my lap or my husbands and asks what she will do if we die and I feel nauseous. To not be with her and her not be with me and not be with my husband is petrifying. We need our kids and they need us. I tell her we will always be togehther in heaven and she says yes mom, we will, because I am not going to college where I could lose you. And then I smile, because like I said, she equates death with separation and right now she just wants to be with me. This gives me comfort.

    I will be paying close attention to the comments as we are trying to prepare her for how sad I am. My Mom’s sister is dying og stage 4 sarcoma right now after she lost her other sister to breast cancer years ago. She was given a 10% survival rate yesterday. To add to that, her daughter Josyln has a daughter with an extrememly rare disease that has no cure called Molybdenum Cofactor deficiency. My mom’s family, my family, is in the midst of tragedy. My poor cousin Joslyn may lose her mother and her daughter in the same year and I while I try to give her support, I quake with fear.

    Sophia sees my tears, my fear. She knows that I am in pain and I know that we will need to have a real talk about death soon.

    Once again thank you so much for your honesty and for letting us into your life. It helps to know there are women with the same fears I have. I hope I can be as honest as I finish writing on death.

    Hugs to you!
    .-= Brittany at Mommy Words´s last blog ..That Mean Girl is Mine! =-.

    Her Bad Mother March 11, 2010 at 12:39 pm

    Thank YOU. And I hope that you didn’t get your bagel wet. Or, if you did, that discussion here makes it kinda worthwhile :)


    Supa Dupa Fresh, the Freshwidow March 11, 2010 at 11:14 am

    I’d like to offer you answers, and I do position myself, somewhat, as an authority. Because when my daughter was 2.5, her father died, and we were torn up in the way that you’ve been, but also became one adult, one comforter, short in the house, every day.

    And I have read books on kids’ grief at this age, and consulted with actual specialists, and lived through it.

    The answer is… there is no answer. You should listen to your daughter and her wacky ideas. They may be more true than any adult’s. My girl, too, insisted that Daddy was at “our other house.” My daughter at 4.5, 2 years later, understands the same as yours at 4.5, 6 months later. They learn over and over again as they grow.

    Listen to her so that she’ll feel she can share. Don’t dismiss her ideas.

    You can share your ideas with her, but don’t pressure her to agree with them or even understand them. Have YOU seen Heaven?

    Your ideas, your faith, are wavering, and you’ve written so beautifully, so earnestly about wanting to know more, wanting some anchor. Maybe the answer to you, too, is lifelong exploration, or at least exploration for now. I’ve suggested to you before that you consider visiting a UU or Quaker congregation to be among those who welcome the search for meaning, the search for transcendence, the desire for answers or at least really good questions. That’s a great environment for your child too.

    Certainty in these things is not really our friend. Why tell your child there’s an answer? You’d be lying, wouldn’t you?

    Personally, if I were a God and I had followers, I’d refuse to answer these questions for them. It’s in living and seeking that we find meaning. I’d let them have fun with it.

    I’m happy to share more through email or Twitter, or send you to relevant blog posts about my daughter’s grieving, if you like, but I don’t want to preach, and I know I tend to.

    One rule, though: she’s too young to understand burial or cremation. Try to stall when these topics come up. It’s simply too big to understand at this age, and horrifying. She’s just beginning to grasp permanence so the idea of burning a body is, justifiably, terrifying to her.

    I will also share that in my daughter’s questions (and her very-sure-sounding) I found great solace, and hope, and truth. At least, I could touch her brain and feel her heart as much as it’s possible to. I could GET what she GETS about it, knowing that as incomprehensible as death really is, to all of us, I could also know the limits of the horror, how they just couldn’t soak in all the way, and the comfort she could create for herself.

    And if she can do it, I can too. It’s so hard to stay open once you’ve become fixed. But listening to her helped me a LOT.LOT.LOT.

    I hope this helps, not in the way you wanted, but at least to testify that I’ve been there, you’re being an excellent mother from what I hear, and you may find joy in the exploration and questing, too.

    I adore your intellect, lady.


    .-= Supa Dupa Fresh, the Freshwidow´s last blog ..The Widow’s Mite = the Widow’s Might =-.

    Her Bad Mother March 11, 2010 at 12:40 pm

    Please do leave links to blog posts. They absolutely help – how else would I know where to look? (I have a strict open-pimpage rule here – PLEASE tell me about what you’ve written about, so that I and others can find it. Our dialogue is richer for it.)

    Heather @ Not a DIY Life March 11, 2010 at 11:19 am

    We haven’t about death specifically with our 2 year old, but we do talk about her sister who is in Heaven. She knows that Susie is in Heaven with Jesus and that Jesus will come tell us when it’s our turn to go to Heaven.

    I don’t want her to be afraid of death, although I know we all are to a certain extent. I want her to approach death with eyes of Faith, that there is life after death, life in Heaven with our loving God.

    Even though she’s not yet 3, her questions challenge me already and remind me of my own grief of burying a child and a best friend, and beloved aunts, uncles, and grandparents. I am learning more and more not to be afraid of grief as I’ve learned not to be afraid of death. I believe that grief keeps us in touch with who we really are, and not the facade that we show the world around us.

    Grief is good, even though it hurts. Death is not an end, it is a doorway between this life and the next. Faith in God allows me to know this and believe this. Without faith, I don’t know that I would be strong when talking about death. But then again, life is not for the faint of heart either. We need faith to face both life and death.
    .-= Heather @ Not a DIY Life´s last blog ..Mamamvation Week #10 =-.

    Her Bad Mother March 11, 2010 at 12:42 pm

    “I don’t want her to be afraid of death, although I know we all are to a certain extent. I want her to approach death with eyes of Faith…”

    Yes, yes, yes: this is exactly why I cannot abandon faith, and why I want it for my children. I just haven’t yet figured out how to do so in a way that honors my own confusion.

    Lisa March 11, 2010 at 11:21 am

    My older sister died when I was 4. My parents separated. I lived with my babysitter and her family for awhile, while my parents got themselves together. I then moved in with my mom into a tiny apartment. We eventually moved back in with my dad into the house where my parents still live, thirty some years later.

    That kind of loss alters you. For a long time I thought of myself as a basically sad person who could have fun at times.

    I didn’t date much because I wouldn’t let a boy get that close to my heart. I married young, the first man I fell in love with. Someone completely wrong for me except that I knew he would never leave me and that made him completely right. I felt like a whole in my heart had finally been filled.

    Until the inevitable came. Our love failed as it had to. We weren’t right for each other. I thought I would die, to lose the one person I really let in after my sister.

    But now I’m fine, better than fine. It didn’t kill me. I learned a lot about myself. I’m remarried to a really good match, I have a wonderful toddler. I consider myself a basically happy person and have for a long time, even back when I was a happy, single chick.

    I think I’ve become somewhat inoculated against loss. I know it happens. I know there is joy beyond.

    Her Bad Mother March 11, 2010 at 12:43 pm

    “For a long time I thought of myself as a basically sad person who could have fun at times.”

    That’s exactly how I feel about myself now. Although on really good days, I think of myself as a happy person with a sadness condition. It’s complicated.

    Rita Arens March 11, 2010 at 11:24 am

    When our second cat to die in two years died, my husband made up a story about Cat Heaven. I grasped on to it, telling my girl that our first dead cat had been sitting around, bored, and then the second dead cat showed up and together they watched us on TV every night to make sure we were okay with the third alive cat. She knows it’s just a story and we have fun with it, but I was surprised how much better the story made ME feel about losing some little being I loved.

    My biggest fear in life is dying before my daughter grows up. My nightly prayer is to let me be her mommy as long as I possibly can. I’m a Christian, so I believe in grace, and that’s what I tell my girl about the afterlife. It’s not a place for perfect people, but we become perfect when we get there. All the bad stuff gets washed off, and that’s why we’re happy, because all we ever wanted is to be with God the way you wanted to be with your parents and I want to be with my daughter.

    I don’t know if that’s right. But it is totally working for me.
    .-= Rita Arens´s last blog ..Little Walls Around Her =-.

    Her Bad Mother March 11, 2010 at 1:08 pm

    Sometimes those “just stories” are everything.

    And, yes: grace. That is one part of my partly-crumbled faith that I cling to, too.

    Erin (mktg_mama) March 11, 2010 at 11:27 am

    This was such an honest and beautiful post.

    I do not have answers for you as I have the same questions. My father died when I was small and I know there will come a day where my son will ask where his grandpa is. I want to say he’s in heaven, I want to say he watches over us. But sometimes I don’t know and I feel empty just admitting that.

    Her Bad Mother March 11, 2010 at 1:10 pm

    That emptiness, when you hit a moment where you know that you don’t know, that’s the worst, the worst, the worst. It’s the core of my struggle.

    Knowing that others get the same feeling helps, though. Much.

    Alice March 11, 2010 at 11:30 am

    Henry does not ask me what happens when we die. He tells me. He’s been telling me since he was three.

    “We all stay right here,” he tells me. “But we’re in another dimension, so people who are alive can’t see us.”

    “What’s it like, when we’re right here?” I ask.

    “The same,” he says, “but better. I haven’t figured that part out yet.”

    If he provides more details, I’ll let you know.

    Her Bad Mother March 11, 2010 at 1:11 pm

    You *must* let me know. Henry is very wise. He and Emilia would have some remarkable conversations, I’d bet.

    Julie @ The Mom Slant March 11, 2010 at 11:45 am

    I don’t think there’s anything wrong with taking comfort in childish explanations. Sure, our job is to comfort *them*, but a little role reversal once in a while is good for all of us.

    Much love to you, C.
    .-= Julie @ The Mom Slant´s last blog ..Live deliberately =-.

    Her Bad Mother March 11, 2010 at 1:12 pm

    Love right back to you :)

    Michelle M March 11, 2010 at 11:47 am

    I…don’t have words for the feelings this post made me feel. nothing that will make a sentence anyway.

    I don’t have kids…but I cannot even figure out what I think about Death so I have no idea what I would tell a child had I given birth to one…

    But I wrote how I felt… and it was healing for me, so thank you for inviting me to join http://housewifeinterrupted.blogspot.com/2010/03/tobacco-stains-and-snow-plow.html
    .-= Michelle M´s last blog ..Tobacco Stains and the Snow Plow =-.

    Her Bad Mother March 11, 2010 at 9:40 pm

    I can’t wait to read it – thank you so much for joining in :)

    Michelle M March 15, 2010 at 2:22 pm

    Thank you so much for putting these…deep, sincere, raw, powerful things/thoughts/feelings on here. It…gives me courage, a place to go, somewhere to hide when I can’t find my snuggie. So.
    .-= Michelle M´s last blog ..Tobacco Stains and the Snow Plow =-.

    Tanis Miller, RNM March 11, 2010 at 11:53 am

    Cannot comment on this one articulately. Nothing is worse than having to explain to a 9 and 8 year old why their brother no longer exists and Jesus gets to be reborn but their brother doesn’t.
    .-= Tanis Miller, RNM´s last blog ..Let’s Talk About Sex =-.

    Her Bad Mother March 11, 2010 at 1:14 pm

    *SIGH*. Jesus complicates things sometimes.


    Lynn Smith March 11, 2010 at 12:00 pm

    Wow, what a heavy and yet beautiful post you have written. My daughter is four, and coming from a religious upbringing (my father is a minister) it has always been a black and white teaching that I have been instilled with.

    I was telling some of my girlfriends that I am so proud of the fact that my daughter is so inquisive and want to ask questions about God, Jesus and The Holy Spirit.

    We have talked about death, and I think that your explaination is exstrordinary. I think that it takes baby steps. As they grow up, they can better understand the more complex means of death. Basic’s first.

    My daughter has been taught right now that when someone dies, they still have a body, but it is hollow, there is nothing or nobody inside. Their spirit that makes them who they are, are gone to meet God and the Holy Spirit, where God will decide their outcome, by the standard of how they lived their life here and followed all God’s rules, left for them in the Bible.

    She understands……at four she grasps that, and as she grows up and asks more questions, we will build that up.

    I love your post! It is very inspiring.

    .-= Lynn Smith´s last blog ..So What Did You Think Of Jason From Last Season’s Bachelor & Molly Mesnick’s Wedding? Who Was On The Guest List? Do You Wonder If Melissa Rycroft Watched As The Events Unfolded? Watch The Full Wedding Video Here. =-.

    Her Bad Mother March 11, 2010 at 2:52 pm

    It’s amazing to me how children – and certainly Emilia – seem to have an intuitive grasp of spirit, of the idea that there is, there must be, something more to *us* than just our bodies, and that human life and the state of human being is a tremendous and fascinating mystery.

    It may be why they ask better questions than we do.

    Issa March 11, 2010 at 12:11 pm

    Each time another relative passes (and dam there has been too many in the past 18 months) I get more questions that I don’t have answer for. I sometimes think that it would be easier if I believed in something. To have something concrete to say to my girls, to have answers. But I have no faith. I wasn’t really raised with any, except the please believe whatever you want too, things that my mother sprouted.

    I guess what I’m trying to say, is that if you are unsure, maybe you go with Emilia’s version for now. To me, it sounds more comforting that anything else I’ve ever heard. As she grows older, she’ll change it to suit her emotional needs of the moment. I don’t really see that as a bad thing.

    On the nightmares, I’m not a help, I’ve always been the same way. Huge hugs Catherine.
    .-= Issa´s last blog ..Funny, but I thought I had lost my mind =-.

    Her Bad Mother March 11, 2010 at 2:55 pm

    It’s not a bad thing. You’re totally right.

    Christina March 11, 2010 at 12:22 pm

    I’m not really sure what I want to say here, that hasn’t been said already.

    We have not yet had to cross that bridge where we’ve had to cope with the loss of a (human) family member. When our beloved (and very old) dog passed away a couple of years ago, we did not get into any detail with my daughter who was 2 at the time – just saying that Trouble has moved on, and we have lots of good memories and photos to remember her with.

    We are not a religious or spirtual family. Descriptions of God or Jesus or Heaven hold no real value for us – but that is OUR choice.

    When the time comes (of course depending on her age and level of acceptance) I will use it as a teaching opportunity to explain the life & death cycle that happens to all living things; for emotional comfort we will share beloved stories and memories, and reinforce the knowledge that the person we’ve lost will live on in our hearts.

    Best of luck, to you and your family!

    Her Bad Mother March 11, 2010 at 9:41 pm

    thank you :)

    your comment is a good example of how useful it is to hear other peoples’ experiences and approaches. the life cycle – yes – is a very good place to start, and end maybe, but it’s also not incompatible with faith, if one chose to take it in that direction.

    something for me to think about.

    Supa Dupa Fresh, the Freshwidow March 11, 2010 at 12:25 pm

    I already wrote a long comment, but since you assssuuure me it’s not rude, I’ll link you to one of my many blog posts on this topic:


    You are quite wonderful in all ways.
    .-= Supa Dupa Fresh, the Freshwidow´s last blog ..The Widow’s Mite = the Widow’s Might =-.

    Her Bad Mother March 11, 2010 at 3:18 pm

    Thank you – as I said, it’s more than welcome :)

    Lauren Hale March 11, 2010 at 12:46 pm

    This post inspired me to write a piece at my blog to explain my own experience with loss as a child and most recently, a discussion I had with my own daughter in relation to a video I posted at my blog regarding a mother who tragically took her life in the throes of postpartum depression.

    As a kid, my parents talked to us about heaven and really respected our space. They let us process things however we needed to. I loved that they always encouraged communication and never shut us down for questions we asked. For me, that was huge. Just keep the communication lines open and never belittle her observations. She’ll grow up respecting you for letting her grow in her own way.

    .-= Lauren Hale´s last blog ..Why I support other Mothers =-.

    Her Bad Mother March 11, 2010 at 3:19 pm

    I can’t wait to read it. THANK YOU.

    Sheri Bheri March 11, 2010 at 12:46 pm

    My Dad died VERY suddenly on Feb 8th, 2009 – just a little over a year ago. Luckily (?) we had a ‘trial run’ on death when his cat died the year before. So when we told my little 4 y/o that her Gpa was dead, she said “Oh Grandpa is SO happy because now he’s in heaven with Buddy.”

    We’re lapsed Catholics too. We told Zoe that Gpa’s body would go in the ground, but his spirit would go to Heaven. And that he could watch us and watch over us. We can talk to him, but he can’t talk to us. He’s with the spirits of all the people who loved him who were dead. It was a comfort for her to know that his Mom and Dad were waiting for him, and that’s he’s waiting for Gma and we really all will be together again.

    When she asks me what it’s like in Heaven or what the spirits are like, I answer honestly “I don’t know. No one knows. We can’t know until we die.”

    I’ve also told her that since her Gpa was a metal detector enthusiast, that whenever we find a penny on the ground, it’s a message from him, that he loves us and misses us.

    She was really worried when she figured out that *I* could die too. So I told her that I wouldn’t die until I was old. And since THAT concept doesn’t make sense to her, I told her that when she’s a Mama, I’ll be a Grandma, and when her babies have babies, she’ll be a Grandma and I’ll be a Great-Grandma, and maybe then my body will stop working and I will die. And that satisfied her.

    This is what I believe to be true, so the honesty rings true to her and she accepts it. Maybe it’s because she ‘remembers’ it all from when she was a spirit in Heaven.

    Her Bad Mother March 11, 2010 at 9:43 pm

    “Maybe it’s because she ‘remembers’ it all from when she was a spirit in Heaven.”

    I wonder this, too. They seem so CERTAIN.

    (that penny thing is beautiful, beautiful. my dad was a coin collector – he and I did it together when I was young – maybe I’ll draw Emilia into that, and borrow your story :) )

    Holly Buchanan March 11, 2010 at 12:55 pm

    I so wish I could have curled up with you on the floor of that suite to join in the conversation. I’m sure it was amazing.

    There is a belief in some spiritual communities that children come into the world with special knowledge. We forget this knowledge as we grow older.

    I don’t know about you, but I listen to children. I learn so much from them. They have this erie kind of wisdom – often wise way beyond their years.
    So I say listen and trust your daughter.

    If you’re looking for practical advice on how to talk to children about death and other losses, I highly recommend – When Children Grieve by John James and Russell Friedman. I’ve found it to be very helpful.
    .-= Holly Buchanan´s last blog ..Is Marketing to Women a Strategy or a Tactic? =-.

    Her Bad Mother March 11, 2010 at 9:45 pm

    I would have loved for you to be curled up with us. next time, you must :)

    And yes – the wisdom of children. Someone said to me in an earlier post on this subject, when I mentioned Emilia’s ‘death house,’ that she’d intuitively created a bardo world for her grandfather. She’d tapped into something deep, something profound. It’s amazing.

    (thanks for the book recommendations. looking them up now.)

    Val March 11, 2010 at 12:57 pm

    I lost my Mom when my first daughter was 4 months old. She’s named after her Gramma. I grieved hard and long. She has lots of questions too.

    I don’t have anything wise or helpful or beautiful to say. Except I struggle too. I struggle with the terror. I struggle with not being immune anymore–if I can lose my Mom, I can lose my Dad, I can lose my kids. I can lose my husband. It was my first BIG–primary relationship death, and when I’m feeling extremely maudlin I look around me and realize that I will lose all these people that I love someday.

    Anyway. We field the questions too. Mostly we talk about how Gramma Caro is in heaven with Jesus. I think because she didn’t know her Gramma in a real fleshy way that she doesn’t have bigger questions like what does she do now that she’s there. And to be honest, even THAT makes me a little sad.

    Thank you for this post. It’s beautiful and heart-breaking and real. It’s one I can curl up in and look at and say, “I’m not alone.”
    .-= Val´s last blog ..Need a little Brennan =-.

    Her Bad Mother March 11, 2010 at 9:52 pm

    and comments like these help me to know that I’m not alone, either. thank you.

    Miss Grace March 11, 2010 at 12:59 pm

    Last July, I flew back from BlogHer in Chicago, I picked up Gabriel (my son), I drove to my grandfather’s house, and I stayed up all night with my family. My grandfather died at dawn. Gabriel was there. He was there when my grandfather was alive and then he was there when they came to take his body away and he was there and he saw my grandfather sleeping and then wanted to know why later he had a blanket up over his face and how could he breathe? It was very, very hard.
    The experience has brought on a preoccupation with aging and with death.
    We talk about it often.
    Since I don’t believe in god or an afterlife, we spend a lot of time talking about how people live on in our memories, and with our love.
    .-= Miss Grace´s last blog ..I can’t believe I used to…. =-.

    cindy March 11, 2010 at 1:19 pm

    It has been five years since my dad died and I can’t believe it’s been that long since I’ve spoken to him. He died very suddenly, when my daughter was only 3 months old, and it shattered me. Somehow, over the passing years, I’ve come to peace with it. I think that God has given me this peace and I have the overwhelming belief that my father was taken because something worse than death was coming for him. He died a happy, healthy, active man. Had he gotten down or sick, it would have been terrible for him. God saved him from this. I can’t help but think that in this saving grace, my daughter was robbed of the wonderfulness her grandfather was and how I know they would have been the best of friends, joined at the hip. All I can repeat to myself is, it was not meant to be. Tears well up at the thought, but it is what it is.

    In the months immediately following his death, I dreamt constantly of him. How he had died, but he really hadn’t…there had been some mistake and I would wake so joyful to know I he was alive, only to realize it had been a dream. Once those dreams subsided, I dreamt of his death…the weekend that surrounded it, the funeral, the days after. I would wake at night just to get away from it. Those too subsided. And now, when I dream of my daddy, they are good dreams…memories of the two of us together. And now I can wake happy in the memory. I know that there will always be a hole in my life because he is gone, but it is ok. I dread the death of my mother. I know it is on the horizon. She is happy and healthy and active…but so was my father. Her death will crush us all…but I made it through once before and I can make it through again. My mother has a way of pushing me through anything and I know that after she dies, her words will echo in my head about how my grieving is silly and I should move forward and always do my best. For now, I enjoy all the stolen moments I can.

    Her Bad Mother March 11, 2010 at 10:00 pm


    Alex March 11, 2010 at 1:36 pm

    Part way through this post I picked up the phone and called my Mom. I just spoke with her yesterday but you made me realize how lucky I am to be able to do this.

    Thank you.

    Her Bad Mother March 13, 2010 at 11:45 am


    Lindsay March 11, 2010 at 1:56 pm

    This post was beautiful and it made me cry.

    I saw you as that little girl, and I was that little girl too, so terribly afraid of death. And I see such similarities in us as we struggle to keep our own daughters from facing those same fears.

    You want to know for sure, but you can’t know for sure. And that’s why it’s called ‘faith.’ And it’s so terribly, terribly difficult sometimes to cling to that. But I’m trying. :)

    Her Bad Mother March 13, 2010 at 11:44 am

    I know you get it. It helps :)

    Annie @ PhD in Parenting March 11, 2010 at 1:58 pm

    Only time for a quick reply. I think I general what guides me is:

    1. Don’t explain more than has been asked, especially if I don’t know for sure (i.e. do not pass my own hopes or beliefs off as truths)

    2. Say “I don’t know” when I don’t know.

    3. Acknowledge and validate the beliefs that my children have, ESPECIALLY if it is related to something that we really don’t know the answer to, even if many people think they do.

    4. Give them security and comfort to the extent that I can without making things up that they may later discover to be completely untrue.
    .-= Annie @ PhD in Parenting´s last blog ..Anti-princess heroines from my youth =-.

    Her Bad Mother March 13, 2010 at 11:46 am

    “Acknowledge and validate the beliefs that my children have, ESPECIALLY if it is related to something that we really don’t know the answer to, even if many people think they do.”

    Yes. THIS, I think, is the real key.

    Steph March 11, 2010 at 2:04 pm

    Thank you, Catherine, for this post. Tuesday marked 7 long years without my Dad-impossible that so nuch time has slipped by, that so much has changed without me being able to share it with him, that the pain and the memory of that day still take my breath away. I know there is no good way to lose a parent, but when they are snatched away young, and with no warning-I was so utterly unprepared.
    My daughters were but a fream when my Dad passed, and yet I want badly for them to have a sense of him. We went to his grave Tuesday, I thought both girls were asleep, but my 3yo woke up and wanted to come out of the car with me.

    What are we doing, mommy? Visiting my Daddy, dear. Where is he? In Heaven, but we come here to remember and to talk to him. But I don’t see him. Remember in Snow White, when she goes to sleep? That is kind of what happened to my Daddy, except there is no prince to save him. Remember when the dwarves cried because they missed her? That is how mommy feels.
    There really is no way to explain it to her, and I don’t want her to understand at this age.

    So this week as my temper is short and my nights are restless I’ve been spending a lot of time hugging on my littlest, who is too young to ask questions. (It’s great therapy, she is so very huggable, isn’t she?) Your daughter’s thoughts are comforting, as is the chance to share with someone I can relate to.


    Her Bad Mother March 13, 2010 at 11:46 am

    Hug therapy has been, sometimes, the only thing carrying me through.

    Sara March 11, 2010 at 2:06 pm

    My own dad died–not suddenly, though–just over ten years ago. It happened just four months after my wedding and well before any grandchildren. My youngest sister was still in high school.

    I remember the dreams. In retrospect, it was obviously my subconscious self training my conscious self for life without Dad. In the beginning, I dreamed that he was alive and all was well. Then I dreamed that he became ill. Then he died in my dreams. Finally, my dreams were about my life after his death. I do sometimes still dream about him being alive and well, though, which I am so thankful for. And in fact, I still occasionally think I see him walking down the street or driving by me on the highway. And my heart breaks all over again when I realize it isn’t him. And never will be him again.

    I am a born-again evangelical Christian, which gives me a solid framework to use when talking to my children about their Papa George. When my daughter first started asking about who my daddy was, I just explained that Papa George had gone to live with Jesus. Now that she’s almost six she understands more, and I plan to keep giving her more details as she asks and I think she’s ready for them. When she was about four years old, she was totally obsessed with hearing stories about my dad. She wanted me to tell her something about him every single day. And honestly, some days it was just too hard for me. But I want her and my three year-old son to get a sense of what kind of man he was. (Which, for the record, was utterly fantastic.)

    It’s such a hard thing, this leading children down the path of grief and death when we ourselves have not yet reached the end of the path. We don’t have enough of a retrospective view to have concrete evidence of the right way to lead them. Such a hard thing.

    Her Bad Mother March 13, 2010 at 11:47 am

    I have the dreams. I love the dreams, and fear the dreams. Love, because my dad is there. Fear, because when I wake up he’s not.

    Such a hard thing, indeed. *SIGH*

    carrien (she laughs at the days) March 11, 2010 at 2:10 pm

    We’re sort of odd I suppose, in the decisions we’ve made about talking to our children about death. We wanted them to see it and experience it really young while it was still “just information”, rather than something shocking that happens to them later that they have to grapple to fit in with any thing else they have come to experience. It’s our opinion that the level of visceral insulation that we grow up with in our culture is harmful to us, and our ability to deal with things like death by making it so other than commonplace, which it is.

    We’re very matter of fact. Everything dies, including people. We will all die someday.

    With that in mind I’ve taken my toddlers to see the open casket at my great grandmother’s funeral. We’ve had them watch daddy butcher goats to cook for dinner, and chickens killed for soup.

    They came with us to the top of MT. San Jacinto to help scatter the ashes of a great uncle who passed. We explained then, as we have explained always. “This is what is left of uncle Gordon’s body. He doesn’t need it anymore. It was old and broken and causing him a lot of pain, and now he’s free of it, now he’s happy. Now he’s with the God who made him and loves him better than anyone else.”

    One of the last things my great grandmother said before she died was, “Life here with Jesus, isn’t that much different than life on the other side with Jesus. It’s just the in between part that hurts so much.”

    I’ve posted on this before, maybe it will help?

    I showed my kids Photos of Haiti
    One of the first times we ever had this talk, with somewhat hilarious results.
    .-= carrien (she laughs at the days)´s last blog ..When tragedy hits close to home =-.

    carrien (she laughs at the days) March 11, 2010 at 2:22 pm

    I had to add, I had a miscarriage less than a year ago. We buried Shiloh’s tiny little body at my in-laws house by the front porch swing. The children knew what had happened, they were expecting a new brother or sister, they knew the baby was dead. Their responses have been encouraging. They understand, they are at times sad, but they aren’t undone. The Girl still leaves flowers on Shiloh’s grave every weekend when we go. Once she smeared the whole wall beside it with a body butter that she liked the smell of. She prays for Shiloh many nights, and now that I am pregnant again she prays that this baby won’t die before it is born, that it will live.

    It’s funny, I never really thought of sharing these stories until reading about Emilia. Like her, she isn’t afraid, but she has her own idea of where Shiloh is and what is going on.

    My kids no death is possible, yet still they hope for life. Maybe that’s really all that any of us can do in the end.

    Sorry for the comments hijack.
    .-= carrien (she laughs at the days)´s last blog ..When tragedy hits close to home =-.

    Meredith March 11, 2010 at 2:42 pm

    I’m working harder to understand my faith now that my kids are old enough to ask questions.

    I am beginning to appreciate the words of our Church — for example, “the faithful departed” as part of the Communion of Saints. We remain united in one Church, though physically separated, but able to support one another through prayer.

    Esther Crawford March 11, 2010 at 3:05 pm

    Death is a tough thing to explain because there is no solid explanation. After my Dad died I struggled to hold on to him because I didn’t want to believe our time together was over. That we’d never meet again in this life – that he wouldn’t see me graduate or get married or meet my kids. But in the days before he died he said a few things that are now part of what I’ll share with my kids: that life keeps moving on and to live in such a way that we leave this place a bit better than we found it.

    Kirsten March 11, 2010 at 3:17 pm

    I can’t imagine adding further wisdom to what the others have already shared, except to say this:

    secrets should never be kept from children. Definitely information can be shared in a way that’s accessible and non-threatening, but I will never understand not telling children about death.

    Reading your account of Emilie’s beliefs, and listening to my own 7yo, I am keenly aware that sometimes a child’s (esp a highly intuitive child) grasp of ‘truth’ about the unknowable perhaps the closest to what’s really going on.
    .-= Kirsten´s last blog ..Patrons with Beer and Chili =-.

    Michelle M March 11, 2010 at 3:40 pm

    I…have many words, but I can’t put them in a sentence…I am so deeply, fiercely sorry about the place you are in. I have never been there and I have no idea what it feels like…

    I, sometimes, feel like a happy person with a sadness condition too…

    (I left comment earlier, then did not see it…figured I was a FAIL and tried again)

    .-= Michelle M´s last blog ..Tobacco Stains and the Snow Plow =-.

    Sue March 11, 2010 at 3:57 pm

    I made my way over here from Loralee’s Blog… and I love that you guys are all writing on this topic. I don’t have children, so I can’t relate to having this conversation with them. But your post nearly broke my heart… mostly because I have those exact same fears. You wrote exactly what I feel… and I haven’t even lost my parents. But that fear plagues me that someday… they won’t be here. And even though I am a practicing Christian and I do believe they will go to a better place, I dread the mere thought of it, and try to run away from even considering it. This whole process of life and death? Well, it kinda bites sometimes.
    .-= Sue´s last blog ..Stay Calm =-.

    Shannon March 11, 2010 at 4:22 pm

    My son has recently been struggling with the concept of death. I have struggled to explain it to him. I stumbled across a children’s book at the library which I felt was very simple and straightforward and presented a number of very lovely thought about where a person is when they are dead. It’s called “Where Do People Go When They Die?” by Mindy Avra Portnoy (found it on amazon.com). It’s very straightforward for young children. I know it’s such a hard concept to understand as an adult, let alone as a young child. Wishing you peace as you try to talk it through with your little ones!
    .-= Shannon´s last blog ..The First Wave =-.

    LD March 11, 2010 at 6:14 pm

    I don’t have answers.
    It’s funny how things sometimes stick in your mind. I read Julie and Julie not that long ago, and at the end of the book Julie writes a tribute to Julia Child (I tried googling it but didn’t find it).
    Anyway, the long and short of it is that when people live and love and make a difference, a little piece of them live in all of us.
    Julie doesn’t believe in Heaven. I do. But, what she says about Julia Child – it made me cry. Because no matter what we believe about the after-life, how true that when we love someone they will always be with us, part of us, and never really leave.
    .-= LD´s last blog ..Le Boeuf – or Why I Leave Cooking to Julie (and Julia) =-.

    Ashley, the Accidental Olympian March 11, 2010 at 6:36 pm

    The moment I read the line, “the fear of losing them, of being left alone, an orphan,” the tears I could feel welling spilled out embarrassingly all over my work space.

    Damn me for reading sensitive blogs at work.

    But honestly I know this fear, this childhood fear, and even more so the adult fear in the reality that when I look at my parents I am filled with the reality that they will not be with me forever. Simply writing those words returns the tears I am fighting so hard to suppress…

    Thank you for this raw and beautiful post I feel so full of emotion and so utterly inarticulate all at the same time.
    .-= Ashley, the Accidental Olympian´s last blog ..A WRAP UP, FOR NO ONE =-.

    MDTaz March 11, 2010 at 7:52 pm

    Grief and death seems to be a major meme these days, or else I’m just noticing it more because it’s on my radar. My mother died last month – a good death, as they say – and I realized right away that I wasn’t grieving alone. I didn’t hide my sadness from my two daughters, I thought it was important that they see it and that they be given permission to express whatever they felt, too. What surprised me most was how practical their questions were. For instance, “If heaven is up, why did you put Grammy down in the ground?” or “Will she be waiting for me when I die?” or this one, after looking at the ring my mother left to me: “Can I have that when you die?”
    .-= MDTaz´s last blog ..Of Whales and Women =-.

    Her Bad Mother March 13, 2010 at 9:51 am

    not being alone when you grieve makes a tremendous, tremendous difference. ALL the difference.

    Tricia March 11, 2010 at 8:05 pm

    Catherine, you are such an incredible writer. Reading your posts brings me incredible peace. You articulate pain so well, and happiness, and every other emotion that finds it’s way onto the pages of this blog. Even though this post isn’t particularly peace-inducing, it gives me great comfort knowing that I’m not the only one feeling this way about death. Thank you for letting it all out, for showing us your soul, bare and unbridled in its emotion. You are such a gift to this world.
    .-= Tricia´s last blog ..What I learned at BloggyBootCamp =-.

    Her Bad Mother March 13, 2010 at 9:45 am


    Thank YOU.

    breedemandweep March 11, 2010 at 9:30 pm

    Too beautiful. Can’t speak. Thank you.
    .-= breedemandweep´s last blog ..6 going on 2 going on life =-.

    Her Bad Mother March 13, 2010 at 9:45 am


    crunchy carpets March 11, 2010 at 9:42 pm

    I have little faith or believe in anything religious. I have found for my kids that the idea of heaven worked best..and when my inlaws died too young, it helped my husband too think about them being in a better place.

    It made my kids feel better to have their grandparents somewhere nice and then the fish and the cat joined them there too.

    However…it just made me feel uncomfortable when I lost Scott. He was mine…I wasn’t comfortable sharing him with relatives that didn’t know him nor that I had been terribly fond of. But I played along for the kids.

    I don’t even like to think about what I will be like when my mom goes…eventually…touch wood.

    We both mourned like a death when I moved out to get married. We are amazingly close. We talk or see each other every day.

    MY mom struggles with death too…her father is turning 95 and she has much baggage with him…it will be a difficult time. I am not close to him…not impressed with how he has handled his life…but mourn the fact that I am NOT close.

    My dad died when I was a teen..but he was so distant to me figuratively and real…he in Scotland and I in Canada. With his alcholism…I felt he was lost long ago…that was and still is a strange grief.

    Death is too close to my little family….I tend to not like ‘romanticizing’ it but am happy with my kids versions of souls and what happens….

    Her Bad Mother March 13, 2010 at 9:34 am

    I feel the same way about not wanting to romanticize it, although I do have moments of wishing that I could. *sigh*

    sweetsalty kate March 11, 2010 at 10:03 pm

    Ahh, lovely. What can we offer our kids, other than what we might like to hear, as kids? Chocolates and gypsies and moonbeams and chickadees. We talk about what a spirit is, and how it travels, and how there’s just so much we don’t understand. And that it’s okay to not understand. And that, if it soothes us, we may as well hypothesize in a manner that lends light and colour, and that helps us sleep soundly.

    Why not?
    .-= sweetsalty kate´s last blog ..Never get into a thumb war with death. Death has really, really long thumbs. =-.

    Her Bad Mother March 13, 2010 at 9:24 am

    It is okay to not understand. And it’s okay to summon the chocolates and gypsies and moonbeams. More than okay.

    Thank you for doing so much, with your words, to validate that.


    The Stiletto Mom March 11, 2010 at 11:01 pm

    This is a topic I am sadly all too familiar with. I lost both my parents. My dad at 19, my Mom at 24. They didn’t see me get married, they never saw my beautiful children. But my daughter? She talks to my Mom somehow. Every once in a while, if I’m upset and not showing it, Gracie will say, “Your Mom is in heaven and she says everything will be okay.” It freaks me out and warms my soul at the same time.

    When she asks where my parents are, I tell her the same thing you do with your daughter…but in all honesty, she knows better than me where my Mom is now because somehow they have a connection that goes beyond earthly boundaries. And for that? I am eternally thankful. Beautiful post Catherine.

    Mary Anne

    Her Bad Mother March 13, 2010 at 9:25 am

    Children know something that we don’t, I’m convinced of that. We *should* let their insights just soothe our souls.

    Another Suburban Mom March 12, 2010 at 7:38 am

    This was so raw and pure I am trying not to tear up. As long as you have your lovely Emilia can anything really be wrong.

    I have spoken to my children about Heaven, but I also believe in reincarnation. I have described Heaven to my oldest child as kind of a nice vacation spot, where you watch scenes from your life and learn lessons and then when the lessons seem to have stuck you come back and get to live another life. I have also told them that angels are everywhere, and that while the box might contain the physical body of the person, that their soul and their love for them are always around as long as they remember how much that person loved them and how much they loved that person.

    However, if my mother died I would be a total wreck and don’t know if I could actually apply my theories about death at that time.
    .-= Another Suburban Mom´s last blog ..Ode to Cookies =-.

    Her Bad Mother March 13, 2010 at 9:30 am

    When you’re wrecked by grief, yes, it’s difficult to cling to pre-conceived theories. But I think that maybe the more firmly you hold him, the *less* difficult that might be.

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