Breakfast conversation was sad in our house this morning. Michael Jackson songs were playing on the radio, so I told my nine year old daughter that he'd died last night. She asked me how old he was, and on hearing that he was only fifty she said in horror, "But you're forty, does that mean you only have 10 years left?"
Death is hard for any of us to deal with, but even more so when you're a child and it's the first time you've encountered it.
You may assume that your child won't be at all bothered by Michael Jackson's death, but that may not be the case. Your child has probably heard of him and may know his music. If you have a little girl who goes to dancing classes, she's probably done a routine to Blame it on the Boogie.
It can be an enormous shock for a child when someone they know of dies. Young children tend to relate everything back to their own lives, so this event may make them wonder who else they know is going to die. If an adult can die, does that mean Mum or Dad might too? So don't be surprised if your child seems slightly stressed or more clingy than usual. Reasssure them that you're not going anywhere.
If your child has lost a grandparent, or even a pet in the past, don't be surprised if they want to talk about those memories too. Don't over-question them, just listen and give them space to talk. Let them know that it's OK to feel sad, but it's better to talk about it if you do. Michael Rosen's Sad Book (written after the death of the author's son) is an excellent resource for getting children talking about their feelings after someone's died. If your child seems seriously distressed, talk to your GP.
I pointed out to my daughter that Michael Jackson was not well, and it's extremely rare to die at 50. I reassured her that we are all healthy and most likely will be around for a long time to come. So now we've made a pact – I'm going at 130, she's going at 100 and we will drift off peacefully in our sleep together. What a conversation for breakfast time!
How did your children react to the news of Michael Jackson's death? What did you say to them? Leave a comment below