This is a precious post from my blog grammology.com I hope you don't mind my sharing it with you....
Noah wants to be a coffin maker
Noah my grandson is six years old and we had a chance to spend a few hours together yesterday and I almost drove off the road when he told me what he wanted to be when he grew up Noah’s already talked about being a gymnastics or a clothing designer and as a family we really never worried about what he wanted to do because one of my grandson’s who just came home after serving four years with the marines at one time wanted to be an Elf now don’t get me wrong I’m not prejudice about Elf’s in fact I tell a lot of childhood stories about Elf’s and trolls however we didn’t want Gary to grow up and be one as we were trying to decide how he’d earn a living and just when he’d grow those pointed ears in fact now that I think about Mr. Spock from Star trek he didn’t seem to have any problem earning a living so why were we so concerned. However Gary did grow out of wanting to be an Elf and he turned out great so why did I almost drive off the road when Noah told me he wanted to build and design coffins when he grew up?
The real story is what he said before and I’m hoping you can learn from what happened to me and Noah and did I have some explaining to do so he wouldn’t continue to be so troubled by Coffins. My mom died two years ago this coming October and when we went to the cemetery for the short service there before leaving Noah and I ended up next to the coffin just as they were putting it into the ground. Noah was four years old and that day I wasn’t paying attention as I had his hand and stopped to talk to someone while he was facing the grave where mom was being lowered. I looked down as he gasped and I knew he was mortified that our mother was going into the hole and I grabbed him and began walking away hoping as I spoke I’d be able to erase the image I knew he had in his mind and heart I can’t remember exactly what I thought however somehow that moment I understood this was not over for my grandson and as we headed for the car I wanted to think about what I’d say to help him get by this experience and as always I thought about it from time to time yet we never put the subject to rest and therefore today we would as it was long overdue and giving Noah bad thoughts.
Grandma he said sometimes I have pictures in my head that I can’t take away or stop thinking about he was in his car seat in the rear and I was driving and we had plenty of time to talk about what he was thinking. I asked him what he meant about pictures and he explained they were things which bothered him and he didn’t know how to change or stop the thoughts that he’d have which scared him. I wanted to approach this carefully so I could relieve his worries for whatever he was thinking from which I had no idea of what he was about to explain I thought he was going to talk about the bully’s at school or a bad movie he’d watched with his siblings I couldn’t have imagined there was so much trauma over the cemetery incident. Now remember most of us are brought up believing there is heaven and hell and one goes up and the other goes down so imagine what he must have been thinking when he saw my mom going into the ground in his little mind she was going straight to hell and the eyes I saw as I looked at him in my rear view mirror made my stomach flip as I new this would be no easy challenge for me to help this petrified child who loved his great gram (grandma KK) and since seeing her go into the ground he’d been wondering why and what he could do to help her get out of hell having these thoughts for over a year not telling anyone who could ever know this.
So as I drove towards our home I let him talk and tell me what he remembered and then I said let’s go to McDonalds and have a discussion face to face so you can tell me what you think and immediately he said alright grandma let’s go and I’ll tell you what I imagine he didn’t even want to go into the play room he wanted to pick a quiet place in front and get these feelings settled in his mind. I was sick to my stomach as I wondered if I’d find the right words to help him figure out his great grandma was in a safe place and that he didn’t have to lament any longer she was fine and he’d agree I hoped.
Therefore as we sat down and Noah started talking he was obsessed with the funeral and death in it’s ending at the cemetery he wanted to know about the hole the gravestone and how the writing and pictures were put onto the big markers he saw on other graves. We talked about the stone carver and what the hole was for he told me about putting treasures of the loved one in the coffin so they weren’t alone and he asked what everything really meant. I tried to let Noah do most of the talking and I’d give reassuring comments as he went along and I was able to explain he was right the spirit rose into heaven then he brought up the cross and the crucifixion and the country he thought Jesus had died and rose again in I was amazed at the information he knew on this subject I knew he’d done a lot of thinking about this and I felt lucky we were going to put to rest that this was bad instead leave him I hoped with peace about life and death and what we do with the people he loved when they died therefore think about some of my conclusions and what you might think about with your children because of Noah’s private fears until we discussed this together.
When a child sees something that is controversial fearful or scary don’t assume the thoughts will just go away as they probably won’t.
When you mean to explain something you’ve experienced with a child make sure you do and don’t wait as long as I did they could be causing issues within their little minds.
Therefore face the times head on allow them to tell you what they’re thinking I’m convinced Noah decided to make my death better for me by creating my coffin so when I die in his mind he’d carve and paint pictures of what we did together it would be the only way he could justify any of us being placed in the ground forever. I came away knowing he was better that we talked about his great grandma’s body needing to be in the cemetery that her spirit went straight to heaven not to hell I felt sure he agreed and was more settled then when we started. And his production of the coffin’s was to help him make peace that I’m old and in his heart may die before he wants me too therefore his tribute to me would be painting our times together on my coffin. In the future we’ll go to see my mom’s grave which is also where my son Daniel is he died 17 years ago at 17 years of age and we’ll place flowers on their graves along with my step dad Henry who is buried there three people he knows I love with all my heart we’ll spend time and make it a pleasant occasion so he’ll feel healthier about the cemetery. Therefore think about what you don’t regarding your children’s thoughts and how you can help them if they need reassurance for any misplaced ideas God am I glad we had this conversation hard though it was and I hope Noah uses his art talent somewhere else not making coffins although my husband said if Noah was going to paint our experiences it better be at least 100 feet and he’s right so kids you never know what they’ll tell you next so be ready.
Dorothy from grammology