My response: "Well, I hope to be alive when you are an adult, so that I can meet your children and your GRANDchildren, but you just never know when you are going to die."
"Oh. Well, how about when I'm 80? Will you still be alive?"
Oy. The questions that come out of Evan's mouth!
He has been focusing a lot of queries regarding death lately. If I recall, Justin went through this stage a bit earlier, but still went through it, nevertheless. It is calming to me, actually, to know that my children know, from an early age, that all life will end. That everyone passes on. I know I have mentioned my views on how to express this to young children. But I thought I'd post it again, simply to share what has worked so well for my kids.
My religious views are loose but strong, if there is such a thing. I truly believe that everyone's beliefs are correct, to a certain degree. There IS "something" out there (wherever "out there" is). There is a connecting force in the universe, of this I am certain. I can feel it. Can you feel it? Can you feel the connection to the earth? Can you feel the rhythm that brings us all together?
I relish in the knowledge that everything, and I mean EVERYthing, is made up from the same basic energy. I do not firmly believe in any religious book or teachings, but feel that they are very beneficial for many people, especially when studied with the understanding that all books are written by men and published by editors. And that men and editors are not infallible.
It is for this reason that Patrick and I haven't raised our children in any specific religion (though the options are always open for them, should they so desire). We were both raised Catholic. Received all our sacraments, including marriage, in the Catholic church. The man-made rules and teachings of church, however, are what have turned me away from any specific religion.
So, when my children ask me basic questions, such as "Is there heaven? What IS God? Why are there bad things?" I respond in an open-ended answer.
"What do YOU think? How would that work? What feels like the right answer to you?"
You'd be surprised as to the depth of an answer that a grade schooler can provide.
Justin, I think, will be similar to me in that he presented the idea of reincarnation to me at an early age. Out of the blue, and in a very intelligent fashion, he explained what he considered a logical use for our energy after our bodies were done with it. And this is how I fashioned my answer for the question of "What happens when we die?"
The balloon theory, according to Tracey
When a new life is formed, God breathes in a deep breath of air. He breathes this air from his lungs into a new body, just as we blow our breath into a balloon. The "balloon" is full of air and beautiful! Sometimes, the balloon may pop suddenly, and all of the air will escape. Sometimes, the balloon slowly deflates over years and years, until all that is left is a limp rubber casing. Still, the air was released back into the atmosphere. In both situations, the air from the balloon didn't disappear. It simply became part of the wind, again. It still exists, even though we cannot see it. The air will continue to touch us and be present for all eternity...
This explained to them, in a way that young children can understand, that souls are invisible. That the good stuff that makes us who we REALLY are isn't tangible, but is still very real. They can comprehend what the air is, and how air isn't visible but exists. They can then acknowledge that human bodies are just vessels for the souls as balloons are vessels for air.
Justin then took this explanation to the next level by saying that sometimes God must use the same air for other "balloons." That all of our souls and "air" is combined and mixed. To which I blinked back tears and agreed.
We ARE all connected.
We are ALL from the same breath of God.