How to Talk to Your Children About Death, the Loss of a Loved One
When it comes to talking to children about the death of a loved one, many parents are at a loss for words. It’s a sticky subject, but local author Jack Tobias, a Benton native who tours the country speaking to children and adults at churches and Christian schools, has a tool.
His children’s book, “A New Home for Mopgolly Mole,” is making the topic more approachable for families.
Here, Jack answers our questions about this charming, spiritual tale:
Tell us about your experience in writing about grief/death.
I have neither theological training nor education in grief counseling; however, this book and many other stories I have written are intended to teach spiritual principles in an entertaining way. All of my stories are scripturally based, and I provide the verses to support the story along with the book so that people can see for themselves what God says. And it is my desire to put these teaching tools in the hands of as many families as possible.
What inspired you to write “A New Home for Mopgolly Mole,” in particular?
I was inspired to write “Mopgolly Mole” while attending the funeral of my uncle. I noticed a number of children present with fear and apprehension on their faces, particularly at the burial site, which struck me deeply. I knew that God had given me many other stories, so I asked him specifically to guide me in the writing of this one.
Why is it so important for there to be books like yours for children/families?
Parents need creative ways to talk to their kids. They have to compete with a media onslaught that is filling their children’s minds with more junk than you can imagine. But as parents deal with difficult things, they should remember that children's attention spans are short. So parents need to keep it simple, relatable and on their child’s level.
What has the response been like from parents/children?
I have seen everything from tears, followed by a smile from parents and grandparents when remembering their own loss, and sighs of relief from parents who drew a blank when faced with the subject of death.
One creative mother, who needed to explain the loss of a family pet, read it to her children who were then completely comfortable and satisfied that their beloved dog had “moved” to his new home. They actually enjoyed telling their friends where their pet had gone.
Children like the story, the pictures and the explanation that answers their questions on their level.
What other advice do you have for parents tackling heavy subjects like heaven/hell, dying, or losing a loved one?
If you honestly don’t have an answer, don’t make something up. Give a truthful answer that you can share with confidence, and it must be an answer that is on their level of understanding. Kids are smarter than we give them credit for. They can spot insincerity in a heartbeat.