Conversations On Death With A 7 Year Old or How I Owe One To J K Rowling

Sometimes I think it’s too early to go into deep conversations with Rhea. She is still too young to comprehend irony, sarcasm and “what if…” scenarios. Which is why when the other day as we were driving past a cemetery and she asked “papa and mama, can I ask a question? I know that Christians and Muslims bury their dead. What do Hindus do?”

I knew right away that this conversation is going to places where we all would get very uncomfortable. I could have easily ended it with some nonchalant answer about this or that but I disagree with that kind of thought. So, I decided to take the plunge.

“Rhea, in Hinduism we cremate the dead”

To which she asks : “What’s cremation?”

There was no way getting around this – “Rhea, that’s when the dead body is laid out on wood and set on fire.”

The next few moments were crucial cause I could see that the information was sinking in and I knew what her next question would be…so I pre-empted it.

“Don’t be scared baby, the person is dead and does not feel a thing.”

This message took a little while to explain cause she had difficulty in comprehending that the person is gone and all that’s left is just the body. So the conversation went to what happens to the person after death. My reply was straightforward : “Nothing baby, when the person dies there is no “after”.”

This did not settle well with her and my wife told her about souls. Thankfully she started with “Some people believe……” And I tried to expand on the conversation but we could see it’s not making sense to her at all. And we left the conversation pending.

And I did not help matters when she asked me what was going to happen to me when I die. I should have just given her sound bites instead of saying “baby, after my organs are donated to people who need them, I will be cremated too.”

“WHAT DO YOU MEAN YOUR ORGANS WILL BE REMOVED FROM YOUR BODY??? YOU ARE FREAKING ME OUT”

Oh boy, took me forever to calm her down!

This happened a few weeks ago and in the meanwhile, she caught Harry Potter bug. She has watched the first two movies and has been insisting I get the book for her. We have been discussing the movie in detail including the deaths in the movies. I think she is a little more receptive to a broader discussion and I will be using the movie heavily for examples.

Thanks Ms. Rowling

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2 thoughts on “Conversations On Death With A 7 Year Old or How I Owe One To J K Rowling

  1. Leena April 26, 2011 / 11:57 am

    Anurag,

    Kids grow up so quickly. Diya has asked me atleast a dozen times when I am going to die….for obvious reasons she was exposed to that a bit early in life when my only sibling passed away and my reaction to the whole thing has etched something in her head-wherein she expects loved ones to die. I guess- I killed the “ceremony of innocence” in this case with my short yet honest dwelling over an untimely, uncomprehended loss.I am amazed at how she expects us to die and not see us ever again……

    Sad….but comforting to know that she will cope….we all do- dont we???

    Leena

  2. agsharma April 26, 2011 / 3:02 pm

    Oh poor little munchkin. Hopefully she will get out of this phase soon. I am curious about your reply to her when she asks you this question?

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