Spiritual education is a keystone of how I am raising my sons, and I am always inspired to hear how other parents are working to raise their children along a spiritual path. In the series Parenting and Faith I feature posts from bloggers discussing how their religion or philosophy influences their parenting. I am so pleased to share today’s post, which comes to us from Varya of Creative World of Varya, who is my dear friend and a fellow board member of Multicultural Kid Blogs.
“The world beyond is as different from this world as this world is different from that of the child while still in the womb of its mother.” (Bahá’u’lláh)
As a Bahá’í, I look at death as a celebration of life. Baha’is believe that life doesn’t end with this physical world, but rather this physical world exists to help us prepare for the next eternal life.
First time our daughter was introduced to the concept of death is when she asked where her cousin’s mommy (my older sister) was and how come she had never met her. Wow, I thought to myself, and here it starts! I had to think fast in order not to give her a false answer, nor to scare her with the concept of death. So… I started with talking about prayerfulness and soul.
The following is almost exact conversation that took place:
– Do remember how every morning and every night we pray?
– Do you know why we pray?
– Hmmm. Because we want to feel good and happy?
– Yes, but also we ask God to help us do better every day, to be strong, to protect our families and friends.
– Do we pray to Bahá’u’lláh? Or ‘Abdu’l-Bahá? (Bahá’u’lláh – the Founder of the Bahá’í Faith, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá – His Son, Who took over after His passing. Both revealed prayers for the Bahá’is for various occasions which we read and recite along with quotations from the Writings)
– Well, we do think about Them, because They are with God.
– Can we go and visit Them?
– Not yet, dear. We can only visit them we finish our life here. Some people get very old, older than Baba and Tetti (grandpa and grandma) and then their body goes into some sort of sleep and their soul goes to God. Some people get very very sick, like your aunt, Rita and Sergei’s mommy. They can’t get well because their body is weak. So they also go to sleep and their soul goes to God.
– Mommy, will you also go to God?
– Yes, some day.
– And daddy?
– Can I go with you?
– I can’t tell you. Every one has their time.
– (starts sobbing). But I don’t want you to go and leave me alone!
– (hugging). But you are never alone! You have family, friends, and daddy and I and everyone you love are always with you. Our body may not be here, but we will be around and if you close your eyes you can see us. And also, you can pray for everyone you love every single day. And if they are people who are already with God, they will be so happy. And those who are still here – it will help them become stronger and happier.
– (looking at me) I will pray every day, mommy. Can we pray now?
– (hugging) Mommy, I will take care of you when you are old and I will always live with you. (melted my heart!)
So, we said prayers. And we hugged. And… she went on about her business. Now when she hears about someone dying or see someone dying in a cartoon she always tells that this someone went to God and Bahá’u’lláh.
After this conversation I haven’t really noticed any difference in her behaviour, so I thought that perhaps she accepted it. She was 4+ years old at the time.
I don’t know how religious you are and what you believe in. Having faith in God and life after death helps us cope with death concept in general. Visiting cemetery where your loved ones’ bodies are put to rest or even people’s whom you don’t know, saying prayers for departed, enjoying the serenity of the cemetery is also something we do from time to time. When we pray, we often say out loud who we pray for and why. Even if the child doesn’t respond or react, it goes into the subconscious and becomes somewhat of a habit.
I am sure once our children are older we will definitely revisit the whole subject. But for now the explanation we give is very easy for them to understand and cope with.
Do your children ask about life and death? What do you tell them?
Varya blogs at Creative World of Varya (formerly known as LittleArtists.Blog.Com) . She is a mom to 2 girls, an early development specialist, a baby massage and perinatal fitness instructor, and a breastfeeding consultant. Varya has been living in China for the past 12 years working and raising her multicultural family.