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Mindful : October 2015
work if the children themselves have a voice and a choice.” He explains that some kids will not want to attend, which is fine as long as they have the information they need to make that deci- sion. But if children think they’d like to go, it’s important for parents to let them know exactly what to expect. He elaborates: “The majority of children, however, will want to be there every step of the way. And they will want to talk about it, explore the meaning of it, question the process, and revisit the ritual in the future.” On the other hand, he says, kids who are not involved in the process may harbor resentments and feelings of exclusion well into adulthood. Primo recalls a story of a little girl who, at three, requested to hold the body of her new- born brother, who had died of complications during birth. Her mother honored her request. “She held him tight, kissing his forehead over and over. Then she returned him to the table and asked, ‘Mom, can we go get ice cream now?’” Luckily, the subject of death continues to be hypothetical for Opal. Not long ago she brought it up again while I was slipping a sundress over her head, but her tone was far less anguished than before. Her focus had shifted, too, from the act of dying to what happens afterward. “So,” she said, as if re-visiting a topic to review for an exam, “tell me what happens after you die.” “People believe different things happen when you die, sweetie. We believe that even though your body stops working, your spirit...” I paused, knowing she was not familiar with the word spirit. “Love, your love continues to live on in another body. We believe you are born again. And all the goodness you create in this life will follow you to your next life.” Opal smiled. “So,” she said, “we come back as babies? I love babies. They are so cute! It’s like all of our hearts are connected by a rainbow. One long thread of a rainbow. I get it now.” Later that day, she strolled into the kitchen after watching one of her favorite cartoons and announced, “It’s time for me to have a sister! How do we get one, Mommy, pleeaase!?” I looked up from my computer, took a long sip of tea and thought to myself, wait—can’t we talk about death? ● Heather Grimes is a blogger, freelance writer, and devoted mother located outside Boulder, Colorado.