Religion tells us there\u2019s life beyond the grave. Science tells us there is no existence beyond the physical. Regardless of your beliefs, mortality is a very real and widespread phenomena that we all eventually learn to come to terms with. What\u2019s more, some may have to deal with it much sooner than they\u2019d like. Children have different concepts of death, depending on their age and level of intelligence. Some kids understand immediately what it means to die; others may need more explaining. After all, how can someone just disappear and never come back? If there is a recent death in your family, chances are your kids will have some questions. With the devastating surge in covid-19 deaths this past year, a close relative or acquaintance may have been a casualty. Moreover, reports tell us that a large number of Covid-19 casualties are children. So there may be a chance that a close friend of your child may have been an unfortunate victim. Here\u2019s how to discuss death with your young children. Discussing Death with Young Children Don\u2019t Avoid Their Questions The worst thing you can do when your child is asking about death is to dismiss their curiosity. This is understandable, especially if there was a recent death in the family, and you\u2019re still grieving. You may be presented with a question that you yourself may have trouble answering. While having a philosophical debate with a 5-year-old is not your idea of a productive afternoon, you must still try your best to accommodate them. One of the more serious questions your child will ask if they themselves will one day die. Be truthful. Tell them that everybody dies. During these discussions, you may start questioning your own relationshipwith death. Adults deal with their own mortality in many profound and absurd ways; although many of us prefer not to think about it. One important thing to remind your child of is that they should enjoy as much out of life as possible. Most people take life for granted because they forget the fact that it can end at anytime. Be Proactive Alternatively, don\u2019t wait for a relative or a family pet to pass away before discussing the subject of death with your child. If a close loved one has died, you may end up being occupied helping out at the funeral or comforting family members. Find a time out of your schedule to talk to them about mortality on your own terms. If you find it difficult to broach such a sensitive and taboo topic, books might help. Sit down and go through them with your child. It sounds a bit cruel, talking about a depressing topic with a happy child. It can possibly ruin their day. But learning about death may actually end up being a positive experience for your child. It may foster a greater sense of gratitude and maturity, of acceptance and love. They may appreciate and cherish the small moments with loved ones more than they ever would otherwise. Avoid Traumatising Your Kids Death is easy enough to explain to kids, but it gets a little tricky when they ask the hard questions. One of these may include 'where do bad people go after they die?' This is usually where parents inevitably introduce their children to the concept of 'hell'. Certain faiths like Christianity and Islam necessitate religious teachings for young children. One of those topics include the afterlife. Know that your kids will eventually learn about death from their peers and teachers. Malay children, for instance, learn about the Islamic version of the hereafter as young as primary one. Depending on the teacher, your kids may be exposed to some traumatising information. The hell of the Abrahamic faiths is no walk in the park. It's full of fire and brimstone and gory punishments; guilty souls being subjected to horrendous tortures. So decide early on if this is what you want your children to learn at the tender age of 6. Offer a Comforting Narrative As previously mentioned, many religions offer some explanation of the hereafter. Even Hindu and Buddhist reincarnation lore involves some mention of hell dimensions. Regardless, I urge you to postpone the 'hell talk until your kids are a little older. Instead, when a close loved one dies, keep the narrative light and positive. You don\u2019t necessarily have to mention heaven, although for religious families, this is the common narrative. Other parents will simply tell their child that the deceased has gone on to a 'better place'. Regardless of what story you wish to tell, try to make it a good one. I\u2019m sure many kids who learn about hell too soon stay up late at night in fear of committing sins and being sent 'down there'. To make matters worse, many parents are guilty of misusing the subject of death to their advantage. Threatening your kids when they misbehave with hell is a form of religious abuse. So please think twice before using your faith as a form of childhood discipline. There are better ways to discipline your child. Explain What Death is To The Best of Your Ability Death is actually a much more complex subject than you think. It\u2019s not just someone passing away and being buried. The circumstances surrounding a death, the process of dying, the causes as well as the aftermath are all important. But your child doesn't need to know all this. Simplify the concept of death to them. The easiest way to explain dying is that it's like going to sleep and never waking up. You can of course mention the concept of souls, or consciousness, depending on your beliefs. Although, much like the subject of the hereafter, souls open up another can of worms you may not be prepared to deal with. Theological concepts like God, sin, judgement day, angels and demons, etcetera often arise when discussing death. Some kids react to death pretty well, while others may develop a neurosis or complex because of what you tell them. So keep the details brief without withholding any pertinent information. For a young child still trying to understand mortality, the first thing they need to know is that it\u2019s natural. Everything dies; plants, animals, humans. Without death, life cannot exist. Remind them also that death does not discriminate between age, race, gender or lifestyle. A healthy person can still die at 25 from an accident, and a chronic smoker can live well into their 50s. Lessons in death can also be a teachable moment for your kids to learn the importance of healthy habits. We don't know what the future may hold, but at the very least we can reduce our chances of dying from illnesses. Lessons in Mortality Death is a natural part of life, but as humans, we fear the unknown. Religion offers us comfort, even as science disputes the existence of the hereafter. Your children will eventually grow up and form their own beliefs and expectations about their own mortality. The best thing you can do as a parent, as with all things, is to give them a soft place to land. Your children did not ask to be born or to experience the terrors of this mortal life. So what you need to do is ease them into it, until they find their sea-legs. Death will forever be a fascination to humans, as it is in our nature to understand the unknown. One thing to note though is that some of us may continue to harbour questions about mortality well into adulthood. Death will come for us all whether we want it to or not, so there really is no point worrying about it. In the words of JK Rowling, author of the Harry Potter books, 'to the well-organised mind, death is but the next great adventure.' Disclaimer: The information provided in this article is for informational purposes only and should not be considered as medical advice from Motherhood. For any health-related concerns, it is advisable to consult with a qualified healthcare professional or medical practitioner. For more insightful stories and fun recipes, stay tuned to Motherhood Story!