Growing up I went to church every Sunday with my family including ‘Sunday School’ which included learning about what happens when you die. I found our religion was good at defining what happens when someone dies—as children we learnt about how according to our religion that good people would go to heaven when they die and bad people would go to hell (you should be good!) But we had a traumatic event associated with the church so our family disassociated ourselves from the church and we haven’t been to church or consider ourselves religious since.
Fast forward to today we have three young kids we are raising in a non-religious household where we didn’t (until recently) discuss what happens when you die.
During the period where Kitty was hospitalised earlier this year we were encouraged by people providing support to our family to have a clear story/shared belief about what happens when someone dies and discuss this with our children.
But we didn’t really have a clear story or belief about what happens when someone dies! As a non-religious person I thought death was just a finish – a lights out – end of the show – when your life just becomes nothing. But that’s just depressing – especially to a kid. We realised you don’t need to be religious to believe in the afterlife.
So we borrowed an idea – it comes from a great film about Day of the Dead called The Book of Life.
When someone dies their spirit lives on in one of two worlds: the land of the remembered, or the land of the forgotten. By focussing on helping people and human connection you’ll be remembered past your death and your spirit will live on in the endless fiesta that is the land of the remembered.
We like this idea as it’s not only easy to explain to our children but it aligns well with our family values and mission statement.
We have created a yearly ritual which is to watch the film as a family on Day of the Dead (2 November) and discuss our beliefs about the afterlife.
What do you believe happens when you die? What do you tell your kids?