Monthly Archives: December 2015

A Child’s View on Dying

     Families are sometimes reluctant to talk about death, and so, children first learn through fantasy: books, movies, games, and television shows. Gareth Matthew’s research showed that young children define death as a sleep-like state that one awakes from. By elementary school, they begin to view death as irreversible, and by the time they’re 9-10 YO, their perception of death becomes more adult-like, a total cessation of mental and physical function.

    Historically, western fairy tales tied death to morality and faith. Bad people stayed dead, and good people are immortalized. Not shielding children gave them the resources to confront the fear of death. Children constructed an idea of the natural death as peaceful. And by the early 20th century, Peter Pan’s childish notion that dying would be “an awfully big adventure” seemed forebode the overarching zealotous sentiment of WWI that confronting death was heroic. Afterwards, death was essentially unmentionable in children’s books and cartoons until the 70’s. With the decline of childhood mortality, talking about death with children became just more and more taboo.

    The majority of death in present-day media for children is portrayed as violent deaths. Specifically, there’s an idea in games where players can cause death or die without much consequence, beyond waiting to respawn. And perhaps an intrinsic aspect of escapist fiction is constructing a “safe” world where death does not apply. But, many children usually can dissociate these ideals from true dying. They form an image of natural death as peaceful, perhaps surrounded by loved ones, and with hope in a kind of immortality. While one route can be disney-esque, portraying resurrection as possible with love, another route in children stories is by showing a character’s death as irreversible, authors further the message that their live’s were valuable and precious.  People must leave when their “job is done”. It’s tragic otherwise. But, they also learn they’re not alone in their grief. Life cut short are central to the narratives children routinely experience. In times of crisis, adults seem to revert back to these preserved childhood definitions. and perhaps discover solace even if they no longer believe in the fantasy.

Refugees in Germany

There is currently a big problem with the countless Syrian refugees that have nowhere to go. Many countries claim that there is no room or no opportunities for these people in their land. When I first heard about this issue I was appalled, there was no space in my mind for the idea that there was no space for others. How could so many people turn their backs on those in need. I was called out by my boyfriend, he is German and his family is dealing everyday with the issue of these displaced people.

The way that he explained it was that there are so many people that need help and that his country is physically unable to clothe them, shelter them, and generally care for that many people. He patiently explained the delicate economy of different countries and how difficult it is to keep them in balance with an increase of workers. Slowly, these people started becoming statistics in my mind.

Recently I received an image from his mother that once again created a very real image of people in my mind. There is so little space in the refugee shelters that there is no longer space for people with small children. The picture that I had received was an image of a women, a man, and a baby.  The couple had nowhere to go with their newborn because they were told that there was no place for them in the shelter. My boyfriends mother, as well as others in the area are taking people such as these into their homes and giving them even an ounce of hope for the future. This has sparked a sort of happiness inside of me, although it is necessary to be careful people are always willing to help one another.