Fear Of The Unknown. (Child Death Anxiety and How To Handle Tough Conversations With Kids - And Ourselves!)
Fear of the unknown. (How to handle tough conversations with kids - and ourselves!)
Child death anxiety can happen when your pet dies. How to talk about death with a child? These mindfulness and gentle parenting tips will help.
If your child is anxious about death and their own death since their pet or a loved one died (child death anxiety), they need your support to teach them the emotional intelligence, strength and resilience they need to overcome their negative emotions.
“Mommy, Sunny is sleeping on the floor.”
The instant I heard my 4-year-old whispering in my ear as I roused in bed, I knew it was going to be a long, difficult day.
Sunny, you see, is one of the two budgies we gave Bibi for her birthday, and, well, birds don’t sleep on the floor.
Apparently, ready or not, I was going to have a conversation about death. With my four year old. And my husband was out of town at a conference.
In just a moment, I’ll tell you how I handled the entire episode (spoiler: poorly, at first, and then better afterwards), but before we get into that, let’s take a moment to talk about fear and anxiety, because I am all about the cheery, light hearted topics today!
Many of the women I meet are nervous about labour and birth — which is totally normal. If you’ve never experienced labour, you don’t know what to expect, and that’s scary.
Fear comes from something, and if you’re feeling anxious about your birth, it’s worth taking the time to explore what’s causing those feelings. In Birth Like a Boss, you’ll find the tools and techniques you need to get to the root of that fear and move past it so that you can have a beautiful, meaningful birth.
If your fear of labour feels extreme — for example, if you’re considering scheduling a C-section to avoid going through labour and childbirth — that fear could be an inherited phobia. In other words, it’s entirely possible that a woman somewhere in your family history went through a traumatic experience, and you carry the memories of that. If that sounds like you, consider personalised mindset coaching.
Just as your own fear and anxiety can come from the way you were parented — or even inherited from your family and carried within you — you can also pass on fear and insecurity to your children. If you feel frustrated, insecure or anxious about any part of being a parent, be reassured that there is so much you can do to make change from within so you can be more relaxed and enjoy your parenthood more.
And all of those thoughts were racing through my mind when Bibi came in to tell me about poor, “sleeping” Sunny.
My first instinct was to delay the inevitable. “Let Sunny sleep,” I told Bibi, and proceeded to give her extra cartoons, all the Coco Pops she wanted, and anything else that might distract her while I frantically texted my husband.
When I’d pulled myself together, I sat down with Bibi and told her, gently, that Sunny wasn’t actually sleeping. In our family, we talk about energy — the mind and body are connected, and without the energy of the mind, the body cannot function — so I told her that “Sunny’s body just doesn’t work anymore”, and her energy, her soul had left.
Your family may be religious, spiritual, agnostic, or something else, and your explanation can be in keeping with your beliefs and values. It’s less about the words and more about being consistent in your message. They’ll ask again and again because they want confirmation, to be sure and it’s a normal part of their learning. So keep the facts simple and use the same turn of phrases and explanations.
Be consistent between each conversation you have and like perfect partners in crime, you and your partner have to stick to the same story too - or if you have different stories, just be upfront and matter-of-fact about that too.
“She’ll never chirp again? She’ll never sit on my hand again?” Bibi asked — and then the two of us crumpled to the floor and cried together. We let ourselves feel that sadness and didn’t try to rush through it.
Bibi spent the entire day holding her dead bird, and honestly, I didn’t know whether to laugh or to cry. After several hours, I finally convinced her that we needed to bury Sunny’s body in the earth.
We held a funeral and had a chance to talk about the reasons we loved Sunny and how she made us happy.
And then, inevitably the real bombshell landed…
Bibi asked me if she was going to die.
One of the things you need to know about parenting is that sometimes, your kids will ask you questions and you won’t know the answers.
Get okay with saying, “I don’t know. Let’s think about that.” Get okay with taking the time to consider your answer carefully, to ask people for help, and to ensure that you and your partner are consistent in your message.
I told Bibi that everyone dies. I weave into our mundane conversations little teachings about the impermanence of things, of time, of form. I also told her how energy passes through all things, can be transmitted and can change form. People (and birds 🐦) we love might not be physically present, but a piece of them remains in our heart.
Something compelled me to watch the Land Before Time with Bibi and a box of chocolates that evening. Then I knew why… I burst into tears and just hugged my baby during the bitter-sweet scene where the little dinosaur’s mother dies and says to her son Little Foot, “Some things you see with your eyes, other’s you see with your heart”.
Impermanence is what makes all things, moments, people precious .
When we forget to live in the moment, we forget to cherish what matters most in life.
This is why we practice mindfulness together. You’re not alone mama. Yes, motherhood is hard, it’s beautiful and bittersweet but we won’t miss a thing. We are Mindful Mamas Raising Tigers.
Mama, what’s the hardest conversation you’ve had with your child? How did it go? Let’s dig into this and help each other.