When I was 8 years old I encountered death without warning. It happened while walking down to school (with my maid who accompanied me) . It was a good twenty minute walk when we suddenly heard a screech and a scream simultaneously. In seconds a crowd gathered. By the time my maid tried to find out, the woman who was the accident victim was carried to the footpath and some good Samaritans were trying their best to revive her. The woman was in her late 30’s possibly. She was wearing an old sari green cotton sari, her hair tied into a bun and had not opened up despite the accident. The driver of the bus who was responsible, was frantically trying to revive her by pouring water into her closed mouth. I was scared seeing the urgency and the solemn faces of those around. My maid did not seem to understand my emotions and I doubt if she was even aware of me standing aloof as she was trying to acquire as much information as possible from the crowd gathered there. After a seemingly long wait she approached me shaking her head in disdain saying in hindi “ The poor woman is dead.”
“Dead?” I replied, “ What does it mean?” She looked at me aghast ,“You don’t know what is death?” I shook my head and begged her to explain. She said that it is the time when one stops breathing, heart stops beating and one’s eyes close forever. Then she went on to explain that this would happen to everyone. I couldn’t believe my ears! What was this woman talking! The first thought that crossed my mind and I voiced it out is ,would it happen to my parents? She nodded a ‘yes’, and I was devastated. I had always thought that life goes on without an end and that my parents who were my life, would be with me forever. The idea of something called death happens to everyone, was just impossible for me to digest at that time. I was so disturbed that I could not concentrate in school. What a revelation! This was the way I was introduced to death.
It is important to hear such a dark and unfathomable idea from your loved ones. Being held close while explaining would ensure security in the process of revealing such information. Comprehending such a complex word for a child is difficult and therefore must be broached very carefully depending upon the sensitivity of the child. This explanation could help him to accept death in a mature way without any fear .
What a topic to discuss on! But these things are rarely spoken about, not until you encounter a death situation. Mind you, children are are more resilient than adults.
My 12 year old student’s Mother had passed away during his term exam. We, of course excused him from answering it. When he came to school after nearly fifteen days, he looked suddenly mature and had become quieter. My heart hurt seeing such a change in this bubbly and mischievous child. I spoke to him giving him as much assurance as I could, hoping that this would help him in some way. He didn’t open up to me and I felt empty and at a loss. I desperately wanted to help this child and I empathised with what he may have gone through. But as days passed I noticed his friends were constantly around him, sharing notes, their tiffin and giving the much needed support that I couldn’t. Soon this child had begun to smile and had started to write down notes and pay attention in class. What I couldn’t do, his friends did!
DEATH- THE OTHER SIDE
Life is a world of fun my child
It’s full of risks and opportunities
Life is also hope my child
live like there is no tomorrow
Life is nothing but faith my child
Believe you can do it
Another world exists my child
T’ is simply called Death
It comes with no promise my child
visits homes unattended
Its steps you cannot hear, my child
be brave to face it
It leaves an indelible mark my child
However, time will heal it