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Can you remember before you were born?

Monday, 1 March 2010  |  Admin

Can you remember before you were born? Well, that's what being dead is like.
This weeks writing workshop is inspired by Chris at Thinly Spread who is struggling to explain 'What comes next' to her 12 year old son, without the comfort blanket of 'Faith'.
Like Christine, I don't have 'Faith' (with or without George Michael soundtrack). Being born and brought up in Northern Ireland at the start of the troubles put paid to any interest in belief for me, aside from the many sweeties I won at Sunday school for being a good girl and memorising the books of the bible in order. And the stories were good. Bloody, violent and supernatural (plagues of locusts, angels bringing death to all 1st born sons, fathers giving their sons as blood sacrifices), gruesome stuff! It was the stories and sweeties I wanted, not my soul saved.
I couldn't understand (and still don't) the idea of a wrathful god who incites violence against other people for not sharing the same beliefs. Seriously, you want to KILL someone because they don't believe the same mythical creature as you created the world in 7 days - even when we know scientifically that isn't the way it happened?
Anyway. My no1 son started to ask questions about death and dying when he was about 4. They started from talking about our family tree. 'Mummy, who is your Mummy?' 'And who is Momo's Mummy?' 'And where is our great-granny?', which lead to the BIG question 'What is dead?'.
I have to say I struggled a little bit with this one, until I read the brilliant 'God Delusion' by Richard Dawkins. His explanation is the one that I now use as standard. 'Being dead is just like the time before you were born. Can you remember that?' It's not scary, it's completely logical and it's almost familiar...it's something even a 5 year old can relate to.
Anyway. It doesn't help with the tears about how he doesn't want to be dead, he likes being alive but I try to reassure him. 'Well, that's why you need to be a good boy and enjoy your life while you have it. Make the most of it, be happy and have fun because you're here for a good time, not a long time.'
It's something we'd all do well to remember.

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