During a recent family walk, SW announced that somebody died. The somebody was unknown to her, and although she’ll never recall the face or characteristics of the deceased in question, never know how they walked or talked, she’ll remember the car they were riding in and the flowers they had for company. Why will she remember? Probably because, in the process, she learnt that the correct name for an undertaker’s car is hearse. Coffin was already familiar to her, and was used extensively in conversations when she was going through her vampire phase. Scooby Doo has a lot to answer for, believe me.
From early on, my son-in-law explained a person’s ‘passing’ sensitively. “Sometimes we have to say goodbye to people we’re fond of,” he said. But by the time my stepfather left the stage, in 2009, we were all using the word, ‘died’, and that was fine.
It’s a tricky one, dealing with the business of dying, when the questions are coming from someone so young. Explaining where babies come from is so much easier.
A couple of weeks ago, I happened to mention (to anyone who might be listening) that SW would be 17 in 10 years time. She turned quickly to me and asked, “Will you still be alive then?”
“I’ll do my best,” I said.
I should add that shortly after SW made her announcement that somebody had died, Thing 2 chirped, “I’ve never seen anybody die before!”
That seemed like an ideal time to dive into the village shop for some sweeties.