Tuesday, January 26, 2010

New Kiddos and Cremation

I started working with 2 kids the other week. Their mom met me outside the house when I arrived tonight. She let me know that the prognosis for her husband is now a week. She let me know what the kids knew. She talked about how she was doing. As we shivered outside, I couldn't help but wonder if I will be in her shoes someday. If I ever get married, will I have to deal with then losing my husband early to cancer? Will either of my parents face disease? Will I be the patient? This woman couldn't have imagined when she said, "I do" that she would bury her husband 10+ years later. And there I was trying to offer what comfort I could. My gift to this woman is my ability to be there for her children. It seems that her daughter talked all day about getting to see me again. She also gave me a personalized drawing for my fridge. Neither child wanted to talk much about their dad's decline and I respected that. They are too young to understand the ramifications of what it means to bring a hospital bed in to your home or needing more pain medication. I'm glad that they still have this innocence for now.

The mom was also looking for help in explaining cremation to the kids. I gave some basic guidelines and a copy of Alan Wolfelt's "Helping Children Understand Cremation." I only differ from Wolfelt in that he recommends saying "The heat burns away all the parts of the body except for some pieces of bone." I wouldn't recommend talking about the body burning, as it won't sit well with most kids, even when they are told that the person is dead and being cremated won't hurt them. Instead I would recommend something more along the lines of "The heat turns the body into ashes." If children want more of an explanation, they'll ask for it. Some will want to know more than others and you can tailor your response to their age and level of understanding.

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