Talking to Children About Death

We have two living children at home, one of whom is old enough to have lots and lots of conversation (2.5 years old).

How and when do you talk to your children about death? Feel free to respond, I will probably post any reply.

We have had four deaths in our family in the last 2 years (two in our house). So I will share a very brief bit about what we have found in our experience.

Our Response We have found that it is EASIER not harder to talk to young children about death than we expect it would be if we waited. I don’t think that most people ignore it, but because we are Christians, we feel obligated to discuss death as soon as possible with children.

A few (amongst MANY) reasons Christians cannot avoid talking about death:

  1. The fall as a theological prinicpal is meaningless without death. (Gen 1-3)
  2. The flood (as a pattern for Exodus) and the Exodus, and the Judgement and conquest of Canaan all involve death to purify the earth: God must have the right over his creatures, and the obligation to himself to  act against his enemies. Those who fight against God’s glory die.
  3. This brings up the problem of the universal enmity with God. All are enemies (as in the fall), therefore, all die. Is there a solution?
  4. The death of Jesus is CRUCIAL (pun intended) to the salvation of men.
  5. The resurrection of Jesus, proving the Lordship of Jesus over all things, is the object of our faith in the gospel (Rom 1.1-4, 10.9; 2 Tim 2.8); without death, resurrection means nothing. [See the Footnote Below for verses, or click above verse link].
  6. Our resurrection is based on Jesus’ resurrection (Rom 8.10-11, 1 Cor 15.45-49, 55-57.)

Our discussion: We have explained, as all our deaths have been inside God’s covenant family, that Jesus lives in heaven after his resurrection, and that our relatives have gone to Jesus and they too will be resurrected on the last day, and we will be with them again forever. We HAVE also explained the resurrection of judgment for those who do not worship the Triune God through Jesus.

———————————footnote———————————

Romans 1.1-4: 1Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle and set apart for the gospel of God— 2the gospel he promised beforehand through his prophets in the Holy Scriptures 3regarding his Son, who as to his human nature was a descendant of David, 4and who through the Spirit[a] of holiness was declared with power to be the Son of God[b] by his resurrection from the dead: Jesus Christ our Lord.

Romans 10.9: That if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.

2 Timothy 2.8: Remember Jesus Christ, raised from the dead, descended from David. This is my gospel

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2 Responses to Talking to Children About Death

  1. Paul Martin says:

    I think taking cues from the child makes the most sense with this topic. Lot’s of times the death of a pet prompts it.

    Also, while putting death in a faith context is important, I think the child needs to understand that it’s still something they’re going to be sad about sometimes because of course they’re going to miss the pet/person – in other words, let the child feel OK about the grieving process.

  2. JonathanB says:

    We have been praying for your family.

    With Rebecca’s parent’s health over the last two years, how to have these conversations has been on my mind. When her dad died, I talked to them about sickness and death being part of the fall, and that their final defeat was part of the victory Jesus won at his resurrection. In many ways, they were able to grasp this and take comfort in it better than the “grown-ups”.

    Jonathan

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