One of the hardest and most awkward subjects to talk about with anyone, especially children, is death. It is not a pleasant topic nor is it a subject that much time is derived to think about, however, it is a reality and at times, the need and situation brings this truth to the forefront and affords an opportunity to discuss this awkward topic with others.
Recently, both local stories and happenings in neighboring states, situations have arisen where youth have passed away tragically and death has been a part of our conversations even with our children. If talking about death is awkward anyway, it is even more tedious to discuss with young children. In this article, I hope to share a few truths that may make a conversation about death less painful and actually use the situation to teach truth to those you love.
- Be honest about life/death
It is easy sometimes to try to convince children that everyone will live forever and that bad things can never happen, but this is not reality. Talking to someone about the reality of life will only help prepare for the day when they will fully understand a sense of loss. A child’s first lesson in loss may be a puppy, a kitten, a goldfish, or a hamster but at some point, the discovery of the fragility of life will happen at it allows us the conversation to teach what life is and what it actually means to live and die.
- Explain that God is always in control
This is a great time to tell children what the scriptures say in Romans 8:28. We may not see the heavenly reason in every earthly circumstance, but faith in God believes in a higher purpose that when time on earth is complete, God’s plan was fulfilled in their life. On the cross, Jesus said “It is finished” as an apparent young man dying at 33 years of age…which shows us that age is not the factor, but the will of God being finished with the work on earth in a person’s life is most important.
- Teach them that it is sin that brings forth death
The reason for death is due to the reward of sin in our lives. Unfortunately, just as we cannot change the familial or social status we are born into due to the choices of others, we also had no control over the fact that we were born into sin (Romans 3:23) which has a “wage” attached to it (Romans 6:23). The sin that followed us into this life is what Jesus came to this earth to defeat and by going public with faith in Jesus, he promised to “wash us from our sin in His own blood”.
- Public faith in Jesus is our hope
There is no greater legacy or indelible mark to leave on those around you than peace in knowing the destination of being with Jesus is your future, but since our time on earth is not guaranteed, the most opportune time to become a believer is now. The decision to follow Jesus is the most important you will ever make because without that decision, you cannot enter into the Kingdom of God (John 3:5). Use this opportunity to teach your kids that one day when Jesus opens their eyes to the truth, that following Jesus and surrendering to Him is the greatest decision because it brings about clarity in purpose, destiny, hope, and love. As a parent, if you have followed Jesus and made Him Lord of your life, be honest with your children by telling them what Jesus has done for you and live in a way that makes them desire the relationship with Christ that you have.