This afternoon, unexpectedly, Daniel started to ask me questions about dying. He has never done this before. He asked me if he was going to die. I could tell that if I answered the wrong that he was going to lose it. I had no idea where this question came from. I was confused, and frazzled trying to get Ariel ready for her new class that started today. I was also out of sorts because I had Daniel’s first IEP meeting today with the school and I had no idea what to expect. I had my own slight anxiety that I was trying to curb. My parents have always been a matter-of-fact about death. I do not view death in a way that many others do. I know this and I tried my best to be as compassionate and gentle with him as I could.
I said, “Well, yes, Daniel we all die, but you do not need to worry about that right now.” He started sobbing repeatedly saying, “I don’t want to die!” He came running to me, buried his head into my chest, and just continued to say that while he cried. I was in shock. I had no idea what to do or say. Ariel’s class was going to start soon and I had to set it up for her. I could not leave Daniel. I held him, rubbed his back, and told him that it was ok. I looked at Ariel and said, “Go get Daddy!”
We were both wide-eyed looking at each other; she jumped off the stool and ran to get him.
David told me that she came busting into his office saying, “I got class, Daniel’s afraid he is going to die, and Mommy needs you!” Very reminiscent of how I would have said it. Lol! He came into the kitchen while Daniel had his head buried into me, sobbing, still saying, “I don’t want to die!” and “Why do I have to die?” We both looked at each other with the same puzzled look. I tried to ask Daniel why he was worried about this; he was unable to give me a direct answer. The mother in me started to take over and wanted to tell him that we were never going to die and that everything was ok.
This caused me to shutdown because I could not lie to him.
David took over and tried to explain to him that we had to die, but that everything would be all right and that he did not need to worry about it now. It did not help. Daniel ran off into a series of questions about death. I am not sure what all David said to him because I had to help Ariel get set up. She had her own minor meltdown, right before Daniel’s because she “got five wrong” on her math test and was devastated. I explained to her that it was all right and that it only meant that we should spend some more time on those types of math problems. She could not understand how she missed them and that caused her so much confusion. I was able to help her feel better and understand that it was fine.
I discovered that she was anxious about her new class because she did not know what to expect.
The anxiety caused her to forget things that she knows which caused her confusion. She did not understand why her brain could not remember even though she knew the answers. Oh, boy! Do I know that feeling. All was settled she started her class and said that she would be fine without me. I went back in to see how the “death talk” was going… not so well. I entered hearing David saying something about “that is just how God made our bodies” that was of course, after he had given Daniel all of the scientific reasons for why we die and Daniel refused them as acceptable answers. Daniel then responded with, “Ask God why he made us to die!” and “Why can’t I live forever?”
David did not know what else to do.
Daniel was getting to the point of no return so we just started saying things to bring him comfort. We could not lie to him and tell him that we would not die, but we could try to make it better. David told him that some people believe that when we die we go to heaven to be with Jesus. This did not really work for Daniel. Jesus as God, dying on the cross, but still being alive and living in some place called heaven, does not compute. I admit this has been a hard thing for me to try to grasp. I will not discuss it – it brings up more questions than answers for me, and it always has. I am sure that Daniel has the same types of issues.
My mind quickly went into all of the episodes of Through the Wormhole I watched yesterday.
They had a marathon of them on or something – I cleaned the house and soaked up knowledge! Love it! I digress – I told Daniel that I thought that maybe when we die our particles go out into space and become the dust of the stars. It does bring me more peace than other options. Since I combine God into all of the cosmos, living in us and through us I find the thought comforting. (That is the best way I can describe my feelings about God, it is a hard topic for me.)
When I shared that, he did stop for a few minutes.
I am not sure what else we came up with. He asked if his body would stop moving, he became freaked out all over again when he found out that it does stop. He asked if our eyes close. I am not sure what was the final thing that brought him comfort. I do know that both David and I continued to reassure him that it would be fine and tried to comfort him that best we could. There were some other questions about how he would die. IT WAS AWFUL! My heart ripped when he was yelling, “I don’t want to die!” Then, sobbing the way he was. He has never cried like that.
He did ask me if we dream when we die.
I told him probably, then, I suggested that possibly death is nothing, but a dream. He liked that response – me too! We told him that we could not give him all of the answers about death because there is no way to know unless you are dead. For the last few hours, he has been repeating this script and smiling oddly, “It is still ok when I die. It will be fine when I die. I am not afraid to die. I will dream when I die.” I do not even know how to respond to this. I tried to comfort him, giving him a big squeeze, and reassuring him that he did not have to worry about it. Every time I did that he said, “I know! I am not afraid to die.” However, I can tell by how he is saying it that he is. I dropped it. Only after I told him that we could still talk about it anytime if he wanted to.
I have no idea what triggered this.
The only thing I can think of was that David watched Lord of The Rings: Return of The King with Ariel and Joshua yesterday. I still feel that they are too young to watch those movies, but David reassured me that he would fast forward and keep an eye on how they were doing. Daniel did not watch the movie, but he was in the room “listening.” He is always listening and feeling. I was preparing their school stuff for this week and then, dinner. I did come in at the end when Frodo is sailing off to the west. I had a feeling that Joshua was going to be upset, he loves Frodo! I looked at him, and he was sobbing into the couch. I picked him up, hugged him, and tried to explain the whole scene to him. He thought Frodo was going to live happily ever after in The Shire.
Aaagggg! My aching heart!
He recovered well and was back to his jumping, flopping, giggling self within half an hour. Ariel on the other hand was sobbing in her sleep. I cradled her and held her tightly not waking her. It helped. I asked her in the morning if she knew that she was crying and she said that she had a bad dream. I think that somehow the movie may have been the contributor to Daniel’s death fear. I am not sure. It could be the spider that is dead hanging on our window outside that he has been staring at. I do not know. He has not been able to tell me anything other than he is, “afraid to stop moving.” OMG! No LOTR’s until they are 30! Has anyone else had this type of thing happen? How did you handle it? I want to make sure that I handle it correctly. I will research, but if anyone has suggestions to help him (me) I welcome them!
I am at a loss with this one.