My son Ben has reached the age—four years old—at which many children become aware of death and try to come to terms with it in one way or another. For me, death was a major source of anxiety at that age, so I’ve been especially careful about how I respond to his inquiries, hoping that he may be able to avoid pricey therapist bills in the future if I say the right things now. We’ve talked about death already, and the whole family recently attended the funeral of a dear uncle, so I wasn’t completely caught off guard when Ben broached the subject again over breakfast this morning. But I was a little surprised by his conclusion:
Ben: “Daddy, when we die, will new people live in our house?”
Me: “Well, yes, Ben, I suppose so.”
Ben: “And when they die, will new people come in and live in our house again?”
Me: “Yeah, that’s right.”
Ben: “Well.” (pauses) “That’s just how it goes.” (shrugs his shoulders) “Could you read me a book?”
I have a feeling my boy is going to be okay.