Stacey Tinianov is a caffeine-powered working mama and shiny object follower, runner, suburban environmentalist, cyclist, breast cancer ass-kicker, and empowered patient advocate. Follow her on Twitter, @CoffeeMommy.
Several weeks ago, my almost 13-year old daughter sat in the backseat as I drove her to a sports activity. Frequently, as she nears her teen years, this drive time is spent in silent meditation (aka: ignoring Mom’s questions about the day) but occasionally, we sing along together to the radio.
Without exception, my favorite days are the days she peppers me with questions that instigate an open dialogue.
“What do you think happens when you die?” she asked as if she were asking what we were having for dinner.
“What do you think happens?” I asked back immediately. The verbal sidestep is a typical mom move designed to create the opportunity to hear her untainted view as well as give myself time to think about my own answer.
She was patently unmoved by my attempt to deflect.
“I asked you your opinion,” she deadpanned and we locked eyes in the rearview mirror.
“Well,” I stammered thoughtfully, “I don’t exactly know.”
It wasn’t as if I hadn’t given a great deal of thought about the process of dying and what comes after death. We have said goodbye to several close friends and family members recently and the topic has been at the top of my mind.
“Some people believe in an afterlife, some people believe in reincarnation, some people believe that dead is dead and life is simply over,” I paused. “I suppose that since energy can neither be created nor destroyed, I believe our spirits live on in some way shape and form. Maybe as energy in a star.”
I anticipated a flurry of questions related to the loved ones who have died in the past six months but none came. Instead, my daughter regaled me with her opinions on death and dying. She was intent on explaining her fear of death is not exactly a fear of death and what comes or doesn’t come next, but a fear of missing out. Fear of not being ready to be finished with life.
“I mean I cannot imagine just not being here. I just have so much to do,” she clarified.
I smiled hearing my daughter discuss death with profound honesty and without a trace of sadness. I smiled not simply because we were having an open conversation about a topic long swept under the rug but because in the context of demystifying death, my daughter and I were sharing a life moment.
This week, I’ll lead the #DWDchat discussion on Twitter to discuss our thoughts and fears about death, how they may have changed over time, and how we bring these up with loved ones. Please join us on Thursday at 7:00pm EDT to share your thoughts.
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