The memory of his life: a natural consequence of death
The great cartoon factory Disney Pixar has brought to our screens a film about death that should be an essential for children, adolescents, young people, parents and grandparents in all houses: Coconut. Set in Mexico, it allows "cross the pond" a tradition deeply rooted in its culture, the memory of the dead.
While on this side of the world we let Halloween be the trickiest version of the party that takes possession of the celebrations of All Saints, the original meaning of this tradition fades little by little in a kind of race to escape death It is striking how today's society is not afraid of children and adolescents approaching dystopias such as ghosts, spirits or zombies and, nevertheless, deliberately distances them from realities such as illness, disability or death.
But in our task as parents, both the death how the processes that lead to it should be part of the education we want to give our children because not reflecting on this reality only leads to stealing the possibility of facing it in the right way.
What is not counted, does not exist
Many parents argue that it is better for children to live happily and not to hear about pain and death. At the end of the day, sooner or later they will end up finding this reality. They do not feel the need to anticipate this moment. However, telling them that they exist with a language and images appropriate to the age of each child will always favor their personal growth. Only if you are aware of this reality can you understand its scope.
In previous generations, children and adolescents felt the disease and death from childhood. There were high rates of early mortality and extended families shared homes or resided very close so that the grandchildren lived with grandparents with whom they shared their disease and accompanied them closely in the transit to death. Today it is not so common that situations like this occur around them, and if they do happen, many families hide them to try to avoid suffering the children.
But Psychologists are committed to allowing children and adolescents to participate in these situations so that they go internalizing them and learning to manage the emotions that produce them. Otherwise, we run the risk of reaching youth or adulthood without this developed capacity and face pain from a response that is not very reflective, marked in excess by emotion.
The central question of the perspective with which we face pain and suffering to try to transfer it to our children has to do with the approach we give it. As María José Calvo, family doctor, explains, optimism is the key to transferring realities that can generate negative emotions and feelings. For example, let's think about the processes of physical and cognitive deterioration that an older person can suffer. Society, based on the productive pragmatism of the market economy, tends to label these situations as negative.
However, the family can convey very positive feelings about pain and suffering, both with respect to the person who suffers it and those who are taking care of it. Children receive a message of dedication, generosity and affection that is very valuable for their education in virtues.
Less Halloween and more memories
It is possible that in your case fight against the influx of Halloween and their bizarre costumes, against the avalanche of sweets and the attraction of everything that sounds American, it is almost impossible. But parents can make virtue a necessity and take advantage of this mode of celebration, a mixture of religious origin with pagan traditions, to add what is really important these days: remember those who are not.
Recover the tradition of the celebration of November 1, the day of all Saints, is an opportunity to help our children grow. Not only because it is an opportunity to talk about death depending on the age and ability of each child, but above all because it allows to maintain a feeling of belonging to the family, affection for those who are not and recognition of daily life of the people who left their mark on us.