Our Own Mortality-How Some Feelings in Children Never Change

My son is experiencing the same fears of death that I did as a child. What should I tell him?

As a child, I was terrified of death. It was often in the twilight hours, between the moment of lying down and the imperceptible instant of slipping off to sleep, that the terror would arise…

Religion and spirituality were of little or no solace. Even to my young mind, they struck me as fantasies that had been elaborately constructed and forcefully imposed in order to stave off the horror…

Growing up on a farm brought with it, moreover, the omnipresence of death…trips to the slaughterhouse, or winter diseases that had my brother and me chiseling shallow graves for animals into frozen earth as young children… Life was imbued with death.

Today, my eldest child, at the age of 6, has fallen prey to these same fears.

…Our existence has numerous dimensions, and they each live according to different times. The biological stratum, which I naïvely took to mean life in general, is in certain ways a long process of demise — we are all dying all the time, just at different rhythms.

Authentic existence is perhaps less about boldly confronting the inevitable reality of our own finitude than about recognizing and cultivating the multiple dimensions of our lives.

It is in this regard that my twilight conversations with my oldest son take on a very different light… they certainly leave traces of an intense moment of sharing something that will carry on in both of us…

Source: Why We Never Die – The New York Times