How to explain death to a child

Sherre Hirsch, Rabbi & Relationship Expert, shares advice for parents on the best way to explain and discuss the topic of death with your young child
How To Explain Death To Your Child
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How to explain death to a child

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So as a Rabbi, I have to explain to parents how to talk to their children about death. And I always used to give them this advice, that the body stops working and the soul goes on to eternal rest, and that's what they are supposed to say to their children, until my mother died. And that did not work for me. It didn't even work for my children. My daughter looked at me with her incredibly big brown eyes and goes, Really Mom? That's it? That's all you've got for me? So I kept telling her I just don't know. And then one night I walked by her bed and she was talking to her little sister and she told her this story that forever changed I talk to children about death. She said, You know GaGa is sleeping in this incredible, restful slumber and she's having the best dream of her life. And no matter how much she loves us, when you're having that kind of dream of milkshakes and all the ice cream you can eat and all the love you can muster you just don't want to wake up. That's the dream GaGa's having and so she can't wake up because it's too good. And I realized in that moment, something about parenting that I had never given to anybody else, which is that my children, they have a theology. It's in our genetics to believe and to think about these things. And I have to give them the room to think about it. So ask your child, instead of telling them, what happens when we die? And you might find they have better answers than you.

Sherre Hirsch, Rabbi & Relationship Expert, shares advice for parents on the best way to explain and discuss the topic of death with your young child

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Rabbi Sherre Hirsch

Rabbi & Relationship Expert

Rabbi Sherre Hirsch is a mother of four, author, speaker, TV personality, teacher and the spiritual life consultant for Canyon Ranch.  After eight years at Sinai Temple in Los Angeles, she stepped out from behind the formal podium to share her message in all kinds of pulpits from The Today Show to a small baptist church in Alabama.  She published her first book, We Plan, God Laughs: What to Do When Life Hits You Over the Head in 2008; her second book will be published in early 2013. Rabbi Hirsch spends her free time practicing yoga, baking brownies and playing freeze dance with her husband and children.

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