Monday, February 6, 2012

Heaven is a 'Place'

There has got to be a better way to explain death to young children than I have found.  I was not raised on the bible but have faith.  I don't know really what I think of the concept of Heaven though I believe there is something after we leave our earthly bodies.  This idea might be reassuring for adults however it really doesn't work for kids especially those whose thinking is at a very concrete level.  When you say to a child that someone they love has gone to Heaven what they hear is the loved one has gone to a 'place'.  A place  is something you can go to and come back from.  A place is where you can go to visit.

I have two that function around the same level in some areas.  One is thirteen, developmentally delayed with accompanying autism.  The other is five.  Both will tell you that Ailish has died.  They have been told and can relay back that we can no longer see Ailish and Ailish will no longer sleep in her bed, wear her clothes, ride in her chair etc etc.  I have stayed away from saying Ailish has gone to Heaven as I know how these two think and things need to be concrete.  There is no abstract thinking going on.  I will question every now and again what they are feeling etc in regards to Ailish being gone and attempt to gather where their thoughts are.  Because they have been told the way it is with their black and white approaches to the world then that is the way it is and I generally get back the information I gave them in previous conversations.

Imagine my surprise as we do the preparations and planning around the Disneyland trip that they both at separate times and never together tell me that when we go in the airplane we will be able to see Ailish.  Donovan thought that when we got to Disneyland that we would find Ailish.  Maybe in his mind if Disneyland really is the happiest place on earth then he would for sure find his sister.

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