Teaching Children about Death

How do you explain the gravity of death and killing something/someone to a 7 year-old in a manner they will understand?

Today my oldest (just over 7.5 years old), while somewhat upset, told his mother that he wanted to “kill himself”. Killing one’s self is not something that has ever come up in conversation or been something he has been exposed to, even with it being one of the top ways people die today (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Suicide#Epidemiology), and after talking with him for a little bit, with relefe, I realized that he didn’t understand what it meant.

I sat him down and tried to explain how much it would hurt the people around him if he was to die and how death or killing one’s self has a permanent outcome that would prevent him from ever doing anything ever again, whether it would be playing with Lego’s or fighting with his brother it was the end-all-be-all to what he does and knows today.

Having this conversation with him I realized that in today’s society children are exposed less and less to death and what the outcome of killing something is. When I was a kid I had pets that were killed by other animals, I had killed fish after fishing and had seen birds of prey injure other birds to the point that they were suffering and the falconer had to kill them by hand, so while I didn’t truly understand what death was, if anyone ever does, I had seen the outcome of death and had an appreciation for it.

So now I am trying to figure out humane ways to give my son the experience of death, I will take him fishing and maybe hunting and I think I will send him with his grandfather to see how falcons catch their food but I can only hope this gives him some perspective on life and death.

How do/did you teach your kids about death or have you done so or even thought about doing so?

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