Thursday, October 16, 2014

More Questions About Grammy

Calliope, looking at the two bathrobes hanging in my bathroom, "Mommy, you have a purple bathrobe now."

Me, "Yes, that's right. Grammy didn't need hers anymore so I took it."

Calliope, "So Grammy will have the blue one?"

Me, "No, Grammy doesn't need a bathrobe because she died."

Calliope, "So when people die, do they need a bathing suit?"

Me, "No, when people die, they don't need clothes any more."

Calliope, wide eyed, "So people have to die naked?"

Me, "....No, they don't have to die naked." Stumbling. My heart in my stomach. I don't want to screw this up. I don't want to tell her about people wearing clothes to go into caskets, but not needing extra changes of clothes since they are decomposing in the ground. And I can't tell her about heaven because I'm not a believer.

I scramble for thought for a minute while I continue getting dressed.

Finally... Me, "When a person dies, their body stops working. So they don't clothes any more, and they don't eat food any more. We can't see them any more. But we remember them in our hearts, and in our memories."

Calliope, "Oh!," sounding very surprised. But not asking any more questions.


  1. Sounds like a perfect answer to me. I'm sure it is hard enough to work through your own grief, but then it is amplified by trying to help Calliope understand it all. Maybe it is good that she keeps bringing it up and it is actually helping for you to talk/think about your mom? Either way, sending you some hugs.

  2. You're doing great. It's such a balancing act between maintaining their innocence yet being honest about your own beliefs. I didn't spend a lot of time consciously deciding what to tell my kids (I'm rather agnostic). Luckily I've had time to gradually build upon explanations with Fiona, just as you are with Calliope. For us the story has evolved to be that people die and their spirit goes to heaven and gets a new body, and their old bodies stay on earth. When specific questions about Heaven or God come up I am honest about "I don't know" and Fiona has been very accepting of that. I've been wanting to check out the Unitarian Church as a place my kids and I can explore these ideas together. On I lighter note, tonight Fiona said, "Mom, I have something I need to ask you" in a serious way, and I was expecting some deep, existential question. Then she said, "how does water get into and out of the toilet?" :-)

  3. Good answer to a hard question.