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Talking To Your Kids About Death

Talking To Your Kids About Death

An older woman once approached me to tell me why she liked the Children’s Object Lesson in the worship service.  Her reason surprised me.  “You frequently talk about death, and that’s important,” she said.  “It is not good when parents try to insulate their kids from the reality of death.  It happens, and they need to know how to deal with it.”  She said that as someone who had a hard time coping with her mother’s death when she was a girl, in part because death was a forbidden subject in their home.

Do you talk to your kids about death?  The news reports of fatalities, especially the ones that are big news, the suicide of a kid at their school or in their community, the passing of great aunt Sally, and even the End Times season of the church year in fall each year (where we talk about death and judgment), are opportune times to talk about death.

But what do you say?  Here is a short list of key points you will want to make:

1)    Death is not just part of the natural cycle of death and life.  The Bible says, “The wages of sin is death.”(Romans 6:23)  Adam and Eve brought death into the world by their sin in the Garden Of Eden (Genesis 3:19) We die because we are sinners.

2)    Death should result in hell.  Isaiah 59:2 tells us, “But your iniquities have separated you from your God.”  Sin separates us from a holy God.  We should end up separated from him forever in hell.

3)    God loved us so much that he changed death from the scary door that opens to hell to the welcoming door that opens to heaven.  Jesus said so.  “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16)  All who die trusting in Jesus are saved.  Sadly, all who die in unbelief perish.

4)    God granted us the gift of salvation at our baptism.  “He saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit[a reference to baptism], 6 whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, 7 so that, having been justified [‘declared not guilty’] by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life. (Titus 3:5-7)

5)    It is OK to be afraid of death.  We fear the unknown, and we fear leaving what is familiar and precious to us here on earth.  More than that, as long as we have a conscience, it will tell us that we deserve God’s anger and punishment when we die.  But the first thing the angel in Jesus’ empty grave on Easter morning said to the women who had come was, “Don’t be afraid.” (Matthew 28:5)  God loves us. Our sins are forgiven for Jesus’ sake.  We belong to God through our baptism.  We are his children and heirs of heaven.  God tells us those things in his Word, and he tells us they are true, because he doesn’t want us to live in fear but in peace.

6)    Heaven will be great!  Revelation 21:1-5 and 22:1-5 are good sections to read to your children about what heaven will be like.  How can heaven NOT be great if Jesus is there and if sin and all the bad stuff that comes from it is absent?

7)    When we experience death, Jesus is with us to comfort us.  Jesus promised, “And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matthew 28:20)  His specialty is giving comfort.  He invites us, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28)  And if he invites us to receive his comfort, he will give it to us!  We can trust him!