Fear of Death: Philosophy from a Six Year Old
Coming up with a topic for an interesting, original weekly blog can sometimes be challenging. So, when one of the grand-kids says something that we can use for blog material, it’s quite a gift. And of course we love to talk about our grand-kids!
This week, we heard profoundly sad news about a woman we know who had won her first fight with cancer, but now is faced with another tough battle. Her odds are not very good. When bad things happen to people our own age, like most people, we feel grief but also a bit of fear. We must face the fact that bad things happen to everyone.
Okay, how does this relate to our 6 year old granddaughter? Well, we were driving her home and passed a cemetery. She asked, “Grandma, do you think the flowers are real?”
I thought oh no, where is this going? I replied, “I don’t know. What do you think?”
She said, “They are fake. I know that for sure. Why do people put fake flowers there?”
I was pretty sure that she knew what cemeteries were for but there was something she wanted to know. I tried, “Well, after people die, families and friends want to remember them and so they put something with their name on it, like a stone and then they can come and visit and put flowers out.”
“Grandma, this is what I was wondering. How do you get up to heaven? I mean how do you get there after you die?”
Great. Now what am I going to say. “Well, I really don’t know.”
“Oh,” she mused, “Well I guess you’ll find out when you die. When you get to be really, really old like 100 then you’ll die and find out.”
“Yes, you’re right.”
She repeated, “When you die you’ll find out how to get to heaven. You’ll just have to wait.”
Ahh, such wisdom. You can tell she’s the granddaughter of two psychologists! I guess we don’t really know the outcome for our acquaintance that is faced with another battle with cancer. And we don’t know exactly what will happen to us or anyone else. We’ll just have to wait.
Photo by imallergic, available under a Creative Commons attribution license.
Smith, L. (2011). Fear of Death: Philosophy from a Six Year Old. Psych Central. Retrieved on April 18, 2015, from http://blogs.psychcentral.com/anxiety/2011/07/fear-of-death-philosophy-from-a-six-year-old/