Friday, December 26, 2014

No idea

I have no idea why we human beings took the story of Saint Nicholas and made up the idea of Santa Claus, the jolly man who delivers presents to good children all over the world. Santa Claus visited us and judging from the mess of paper and ribbons strewn about, we must have been very good this year. I am a perpetuator of the myth.

I may not understand Santa Claus, but I do know why we made up the concept of heaven - the better place we all go after we die. Heaven helps us wrap our heads around the concept of death and give it a deeper meaning. It's also a bit of wishful thinking. No, wishful thinking is too weak a term. For many people it is absolutely necessary thinking. Believing that our loved one is waiting for us in heaven or that our loved one is not alone but surrounded by family in heaven - well, that's a pretty tempting concept. Unfortunately, that's a concept I don't believe in.

We explained to the girls that Grandpa died, first in English and when they seemed to not understand, we explained again in Polish. It wasn't a language problem. It was a death problem. They asked when Grandpa died, how and where. We told them the truth - that Grandpa was at home, out working in the camper, when he had a heart attack and died. Rosie asked, "So when we go there to visit, Pap won't be there anymore?" I answered yes to which she replied that she didn't understand. And how can I explain it to her any better than that when I myself do not understand? I cannot imagine that when I go there next time, my father will not be there to greet me. 

"Where'd he go?" Rosie asked. Here is the moment I decided to tell my children the truth. I may have caved on the whole Santa thing, but this is much too important. I simply told her, "I don't know." Because I do not know and nobody knows. That is the mystery of life of death.

"Grandpa went to a better place, heaven, where he is watching us and waiting for us," may be a more satisfying answer not only for the kids, but it's just not something I can latch onto.

5 comments:

czarownica said...

Good, although very sad, opportunity to talk about life and death. Brave, that you don't give up your beliefs to provide false comfort for those close to you.
Your first visit there will be diffcult, as each and every first thing you used to do with dad and from now on you'll be doing without him. First Thanksgiving, Christmas, etc. even if you've lived separate for a while and not spent all of them together.
For months after my papa died I sobbed each time I opened a cupboard in my kitchen and looked at little espresso cups we bought specially for him. But it settled. Time's a healer, however trivial it may sound.
Thinking of you and your family a lot this Christmas xx

Izabelka said...

Dear Chris,
It is very difficult to explain children the sense of death, life without those who died, and where they are now even if you believe in God, heaven, etc.
I had such discussion 2 years ago with my older son.
The deeper sense of explanation is, there is no beginning and no end which is similar to buddhism...I also believe that those who died take care of those who are still on earth, and wait for us.
Many warm thoughts x

Chris said...

Thank you both for your kind and comforting words.

Wojtek said...

Czasami nie ma sensu tłumaczenia małym dzieciom co się stało. Lepiej użyć w takiej sytuacji abstrakcyjnego myślenia zamiast tłumaczenia. Dzieci są bardzo inteligentne i znajdzie rozwiązanie na ten problem, tylko potrzebuje czasu. Metodę tą wyjaśnię na przykładzie poniżej.

> Jak wyjaśnić co to jest miłość ??
Powiedz tak "Miłość to gorący żar co rozpala ciągle mnie". W ten sposób łatwiej przekazać pewne trudne i wieloznaczne pojęcia. Jeśli dajesz masz kłopoty to spróbuj w ten sposób przekazać to.

>> Dziecko pyta się, dlaczego ktoś umiera ?? możesz odpowiedzieć, że po śmierci "Nie liczę godzin i lat,
To życie mija, nie ja.
Bliżej gwiazd, bliżej dna
Jestem wciąż taki sam,
Wciąż ten sam." przecież zmarli się przecież nie zmieniają, co nie ?? :P

Mam nadzieję, że to chociaż troszkę pomoże :)

Chris said...

Thank you.