Rituals help Children make sense of Death

Events last month encouraged us to reflect. We’ve attended two funerals, and the Pike River Mining Disaster dominated the news. While naturally such times reminded us to appreciate significant people in our world, I also thought about the rituals surrounding death. What is the best way to help our children to make sense of it all?

The problem we have in the Southern  Hemisphere is that so many of our yearly rituals are seasonally inappropriate. Christmas happens when we’re all in shorts and t-shirts  and Easter during the harvest season. Events like Halloween and Valentines seem like commercialism on steroids: nothing like a celebration of love or a time to reflect on life and death.

In the end we lit candles and said thank-you for the lives which had ended. The boys visited their Great Uncle’s body and we talked about it just being a shell. He/his spirit/ his personality had obviously departed. As the Hare said, he looked like a shop-mannequin of himself. The boys attended the funeral too and got to experience the emotional journey:grief, laughter and quiet thanks-giving. There was a sense of closure. As days move on and it seems less and less likely that the bodies of the 29 miners from the Pike River Mine will be recovered, how much harder will it be for their friends and families? I can only imagine and send them arohanui, great love. I also hope the remembrance services will help them say goodbye. Creating a family or community  ritual each year to pause and recall, will also help, I think.

In light of all this, next year we’re adding a new ritual to our family events. During the last week of April we’re going to have our own festival of All Hallows. I think the timing will work well: autumn trees will be in their full regalia, the days will be drawing in and ANZAC will be a natural part of it. We’ll light candles each night and perhaps make a jack-o-lantern. The boys will go to the dawn service with their grandparents. It will be a quiet time. A time to remember. A time be thankful. A time to reflect.

(Should you find this article useful, Koha is accepted, $1 is fine. The button is under my blog-roll. :))

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About Karyn @ kloppenmum

kloppenmum is me, Karyn Van Der Zwet, mother of three and ex-teacher. I'm part of a revolution in parenting, with the aim to raise mature (not sophisticated) and self-assured children. I also know some stuff about adults. I have also had articles printed in The Journal for The British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (Children and Young People) and the US parenting magazine, Pathways to Family Wellness, as well I regularly write for World Moms Blog (named as one of the Forbes 100 most useful blogs for women 2012 &2013). You can follow me on facebook (kloppenmum) pinterest (Karyn at Kloppenmum) and twitter (@kloppenmum). I'm also vaguely on LinkedIn (Karyn Van Der Zwet). Thanks to Joe (Mr Hare) for taking the photo. Cheers, son: xxxx.
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2 Responses to Rituals help Children make sense of Death

  1. beautiful post! especially when you said “He/his spirit/ his personality had obviously departed”. a quick thought and I could imagine a body that could once do whatever s/he wanted to but now is just lying there. a strange sensation that everyone should try feeling. it would only help in understanding the value of life a little more.

    • kloppenmum says:

      Thanks. I haven’t ever thought of what it would be like to lie there and not be able to do what I want; I agree, I think it would help me appreciate what I have now.

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