What I haven't gotten myself ready for though, is a conversation dealing with the fear of death. For whatever reason, I never pictured myself having to sit down with our kids to go over such an uncomfortable topic.
I don't like to talk about it and would be hard pressed to find anyone who does. Our son has really been struggling with it though. I don't know if it's common for this to happen around his age but he's been asking so many questions.
We finally sat down today to talk things through. I have a unique take on this subject because my Grandma died when giving birth to my Mom. She flatlined and left her body as the doctor and nurses did an emergency C-section to get my Mom out. Gram would tell me how she saw everything. She watched as they pulled my Mom off to the side and the nurses argued with the doctor to try and save "the baby" while he felt that mom was too premature to deal with. He argued back wanting their help to save my Grandmother instead.
Gram said that she listened to their quick conversations and watched them struggle as she then turned to leave the room.
I remember her description. "You can't imagine how heavy your body is. You don't realize it on Earth but your arms, your legs...everything about you weighs you down like an anchor."
She went on to say that when she left her body and rose up, the feeling was like every happy thought or memory she had ever known all at once. "There's nothing to compare it with...no human words or emotions could ever describe it."
She went on to explain how as she began to leave the room, she heard a voice say to her, "It's not time," then she turned back to see a nurse screaming at her to breathe.
That was it. It was all she remembered. She woke in a hospital room and later described what had happened to each of the staff as they stood speechless. Each of them verified that it was exactly what had occurred but couldn't explain how she knew.
I believe that we are made of energy and that energy transitions when our bodies shut down. In my personal beliefs, that is Heaven or Hell.
In my job as a therapist, I've worked in hospitals and nursing homes. I can't tell you how many times patients have told me that there are "people" beside me when I'm the only one in the room with them. There have been people nearing death that describe in full - a man to my left or a person by their bed. I can't lie and say that it doesn't one hundred percent FREAK me out, but I believe what they see.
HOW do you explain all of this to a child though?
Our son's number one worry has been, "I don't want to die, even if it means going to Heaven. I want to stay here instead."
I sat for some time to try and think of an answer...until this finally came to mind.
I explained to him that even though it was hard to believe, there was a time when he was in my stomach. "You tossed and turned and kicked and pushed for months. When the day came for you to be born though, you didn't want to come out. You were happy and safe and felt secure.
Our son looked at me with a scrunched nose. "That's gross mom. I don't want to be in your stomach."
I nodded saying, "Exactly. Look at all of the wonders of the world that stood waiting for you out here - but you never could have known that when you were a baby."
The same holds true after life. We can't begin to imagine what will be but I can't help but believe what my Gram said. God has amazing and wonderful things that our minds couldn't possibly begin to comprehend. Until then, I'll continue to learn on this journey and try to guide our little ones along the way.
After today though, at least I know that one thing's for sure. I will forever appreciate the simplicity of the "Eat your vegetables" conversation...much, much more. -whew-
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