difficult child extremely upset about thoughts of death/dying

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by Jules71, Sep 12, 2012.

  1. Jules71

    Jules71 Warrior Mom since 2007

    Last night 5 y.o. easy child was asking questions about what happens when you die, how you get to heaven, and where heaven is, etc. He was talking about a story they read in his christian preschool last year where a kid goes to the hospital and then he wakes up in heaven. I am not very religious but was answering his questions as best as I could.

    Well 10 y.o. difficult child got so upset. He was yelling and saying they should not read stories like that and then he started crying (a lot). The topic upset him so much. Of course then because he was so upset and was crying so hard - he then got mad and started swearing and telling me to shut up and telling me he hates me and he is going to kill himself. I could see deep down under the anger he was sad/scared/hurt. When he was younger he used to worry about me/him dying. He was telling his little brother that everything just goes dark when you die and that's it. I was trying to tell him heaven is kind of like a bonus round (relating to video games) and telling him when you have finished what you are supposed to do here on earth and fulfilled your purpose then God chooses you to go to Heaven and promises you eternal life and all his glory (again, I am not religious - just reiterating what I have heard/been told). He just kept telling me to shut up. He was so upset.

    Does anyone have experience with this? Any suggestions? I told them I could not answer all of their questions but would be happy to go to church with them and try to get the answers. Of course he said NO WAY. I am just concerned as I did not realize he is still very bothered by death and wonder if this is normal or if I should get someone for him to talk to. Little brother was more concerned with why difficult child was getting so upset than he was with what I was telling him.
  2. InsaneCdn

    InsaneCdn Well-Known Member

    easy child's questions etc. are normal. difficult children reaction is not normal. Does he have a regular therapist or psychiatrist? someone who can help with this? I wouldn't pull in "religious" resources, they will just make difficult child more upset.
  3. DDD

    DDD Well-Known Member

    I'd be very very careful about opting for a church. Yeah, I know, church is a good thing. on the other hand each church has not only a different philosophy but different personalities who share the message. As you likely know I am a senior citizen with decades of experience parenting. I made an innocent mistake with difficult child#2. husband and I do not go to church on Sunday as that is our only day off...and, lol, we're old enough to need a day at home. We have neighbors who go to church every Wednesday and every Sunday and have a church group over for dinner every Friday. They are nice people who have a son the same age as #2.

    He has always been a lonely child and when they invited him to join them he was excited and I didn't pause. They are still nice people but OMG their church included speaking in tongues and alot of "pleasant" instruction on how it is necessary to follow the tenets of the Bible or you will burn in hell. Yikes. I didn't know until he had been going regularly for about six months. He has a confused fixation that resulted from that exposure. I wish I had hesitated. DDD
  4. Jules71

    Jules71 Warrior Mom since 2007

    Thank you both for the input. I agree with not pulling in any religious resources. Although my little one really seemed to love his experience and exposure to religion at his previous preschool. My difficult child also went to a different Lutheran preschool and he HATED IT! All of it.

    We have not have good luck with psychiatrists and tdocs. We had the original psychologist who diagnosis'd him - he offered no therapy just a repeated explanation of what ADHD is (which I had already read the topic to death). Then he had a psychiatrist who did nothing but prescribe medications but didn't really want to go over my previous medication charts or really even consider that a stimulant might not be what he needs and maybe something more than ADHD and ODD is going on. He saw a therapist at that office who just wanted to talk about the amygdala and fight or flight response to stress (was not geared toward children at all). Then we found a new therapist who he got along so well with that the therapist basically told me you don't need to bring him so often. In other words they got along great and he didn't understand what he was coming there for. Well yeah, if everything is going fine there is no problem. It's when you want him to do something he doesn't want to do. Or to stop doing something he doesn't want to stop doing. Or when he is bored.

    So I don't know if I should contact the last therapist or not. What do you think? He saw him for about 8 months and then stopped over the summer.
  5. Californiablonde

    Californiablonde Well-Known Member

    I would say yes to the old psychiatrist. They have already formed a good relationship it sounds like. Good therapy really is hard to find so if they have already established a good report then I'd give it another go. That's just my two cents.
  6. InsaneCdn

    InsaneCdn Well-Known Member

    I would contact that last therapist. NOW, they have a topic to tackle... until now, they spent time building a relationship that makes it possible to tackle "topics".
  7. DaisyFace

    DaisyFace Love me...Love me not


    You can tell your difficult child that quite frankly, I agree with him. Stories like that ARE upsetting...especially so for extra-sensitive kids. Stories like that should not, in my humble opinion, be read to sensitive children.

    Do you remember why that particular story was read to a group of pre-schoolers? Had a child in the community recently died? If so, I can understand that the teachers thought the story might bring comfort to kids who didn't really grasp the concept of death and might have taken comfort in the thought that the child who died had simply gone to sleep and woke up in a wonderful place.

    I'm thinking that the "heaven", as described in the story, does not mesh with difficult child's sense of what is right. My advice would be to talk about the child in the story - and remind difficult child that it *is* just a story. The writer made up the child and the hospital and used his imagination to describe heaven. The writer has never been to heaven, and has no better idea of what happens when we die than anyone else. Maybe it is different for everybody? Maybe you get to decide how to spend your afterlife - do you want to hang out in heaven? or do you want to haunt a house? or be reborn as a cat? or come back as something huge and powerful like a comet?

    I think that inviting difficult child to question the story's "facts" is the way to go.
  8. Jules71

    Jules71 Warrior Mom since 2007

    Thanks DaisyFace! It's funny because I did a lot of what you suggest. I did tell him no one really knows and that it might be whatever each individual desires. So for him it could be playing video games all day. Lol. The story was actually read to my younger son's class - difficult child wasn't there but was getting upset when easy child was talking about it last night. I do not think anyone in the community had recently died when they read that. I too thought it was kind of odd. I just think the thought of someone dying and difficult child being completely powerless over it is absolutely frightening for him. He is very literal and logical and religion doesn't seem to mix with his mind. I want so badly to comfort him and make all of his fears go away - but he is defensive and doesn't usually allow anyone to see his vulnerability.

    IC - difficult child would FLIP out if once he realized I asked the therapist to discuss this with him. He would probably get aggressive and/or walk out. It's so hard.
  9. DaisyFace

    DaisyFace Love me...Love me not

    I think being frightened of things we cannot control is pretty normal. And a lot of religious ideas are not very logical when you think about it....so it might be that here is this problem (ie. death) and the solution that has been presented makes no sense at all. That would definitely be upsetting.

    But I also think that for sensitive people, sometimes the stories themselves become an emotional problem because we (yes, I am including myself in the sensitive people category) don't know what to do with it. For example, I watched a History Channel special about the neanderthals - and they explained that they could determine how an individual had died from the evdience left in the bones. Then they went on to explain that the skeleton of a neanderthal child contained evidence of a severe infection - the child would have suffered a slow and painful death.

    Well, that was just so darn SAD! But what the heck do I do with those feelings - Know what I mean? ? The child died many thousands of years ago. I never met him. I wasn't there. I could not have saved him. But still - here I am thinking about how sad it was that he must have suffered so at the end of his short life.

    I think those kinds of stories can cause an emotional response that is difficult to put into an appropriate category.
  10. Anxworrier

    Anxworrier New Member

    "He is very literal and logical and religion doesn't seem to mix with his mind. I want so badly to comfort him and make all of his fears go away - but he is defensive and doesn't usually allow anyone to see his vulnerability."
    "IC - difficult child would FLIP out if once he realized I asked the therapist to discuss this with him. He would probably get aggressive and/or walk out. It's so hard."

    Wow you could be describing my boy! My difficult child tears up so easily but never admits it, hides it, gets angry to cover up. I used to call him my contrary boy when he was a toddler. But when no should have stopped being his main word, it didn't stop. No is his knee jerk answer to everything. He denies when he does stuff wrong, he throws responsibility at everyone else, my fault teaches fault etc. another thing you said rang true for me..that he is logical and literal, well maybe not the logical part BUT the literal...yes! I always say there is no grey in his world. Black white that's it. My boy did some therapy but hated it and was not cooperative with it. Finally stopped. And now some years have passed, he won't even consider seeing a counselor. Totally uncooperative.

    Anyway, I hope things calm down for him! Hugs!
  11. TeDo

    TeDo Guest

    This is kind of like my boys. difficult child 2 is fine with all that stuff and understands the concept. difficult child 1 on the other hand, doesn't believe it unless he can see or touch it. Trying to talk about something that is the opposite of what he believes would cause a LOT of anxiety. difficult child 1 also worries about me dying and what will happen to him because I am the only one he trusts and, according to him, the only person in the world that understands him. Yea, death and dying conversations don't happen around him. Now that I know it bothers difficult child 1 so badly, it's only fair to have that be a taboo topic around him.
  12. Liahona

    Liahona Guest

    This is one of difficult child 1's big worries; ever since he was about 5 years old. We are very religious, but this isn't a religious issue; its a mental health issue. Explaining to him what our church teaches would have only made it much worse. The only thing that helps him is me saying that I am not going to die for a very long time and that his siblings aren't going to die any time soon either. He needs the reassurance that his world is o.k. and that these worries aren't rational. I tell him point blank 'this is all in your head. Everyone is going to be o.k.'

    difficult child 2 on the other hand takes comfort in talking about where great-grandma went to and what will happen next to her. difficult child 1 isn't present when we have those conversations though. When she died difficult child 1 didn't even acknowledge that she had ever lived. Her passing didn't effect his day-to-day so he wasn't going to show emotion about it. And we had gone to her house at least once a week since he was 4 months old.