Have you ever been asked by little ones about the death of an animal?
Death and even life on the farmstead is not for the faint of heart. Especially, when children start asking questions about death.
My heart is always heavy when an animal or even a plant in my care dies.
As a caring and sensitive farmsteader, I do lose an animal or plant from time to time. It’s hard on me. I’ve even considered getting out of the goat business after an abortion storm I experienced years ago.
But, I’m still raising goats. Thanks to some special mentors, I learned what to do to overcome the issue I was facing.
Engaging myself in the practice of raising livestock has strengthened my ability to understand death in a different sort of way. A special way that I will pass on to my children.
Listen to the Podcast
What changed my mind about death?
I had a friend who had passed away at a young age. Like me, he was also a young farmer and loved farm life. But, he also understood death from raising dairy cattle and sheep.
The theme of his funeral was the circle of life. The celebration of the end of his life.
Because life does come to an end. It’s a natural part of being on this earth.
His funeral was difficult since he was so young. But, the message was instilled into me even to this day.
To Everything There Is A Season
The classic song Turn Turn Turn (To Everything There is a Season) by The Byrds is what I think about now when I think of death in general.
The Byrds took the lyrics for their song from the Book of Ecclesiastes in the Bible:
To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:Ecclesiastes: 3
A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, a time to reap that which is planted;
A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up;
A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together;
A time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.
This is the circle of life explained short and sweet.
Thanks to this experience and understanding, I feel comfortable teaching my daughter about death on the farmstead when she asks me difficult questions.
I want my daughter to learn about death
My daughters have been exposed to death on our farmstead.
The have seen us harvest chickens for meat and have become a part of the harvest. They have seen a baby goat kid or lamb laying dead in the corner of the shed.
My girls have helped me treat an animal for a week, only to watch our hard work turn to death in a matter of hours.
My older daughter Mylee has shown the natural mourning emotions we all have about death of a loved one or animal. And, of course, she has lots of questions to be answered.
What I want to teach my child about death
I want her to understand death as being natural. Just as life is a magical miracle, death is the natural end to life on earth.
Most importantly, I want her to understand the dead do not come back to life.
She and other young children need to understand the circle of life. Why we live and why we die.
Where do we go when we die?
When death happens, our spirit leaves the body. The body stays on earth. The spirit goes to another place. A better place. Called heaven.
I tell her it’s a wonderful place where animals can run and play all day long.
As Christians, this is what we are taught to believe. Heaven is a better place to live eternal life.
Why do we die?
We die because our time on earth has ended.
I tell my daughter we are only on this earth for a short time. Nothing lives forever.
We’re on this earth because God has a purpose for us to achieve.
After we have gained that purpose and success in life, it’s time for us to leave life for a better place.
It’s our destiny to fulfill our life on earth and be rewarded with eternal life in heaven.
What I will Never teach my child about death
I will never give my child the run around about death.
As a part of the farmstead, she is just as much exposed to things as we are.
I will never tell her a dead animal is “just sleeping”. She will think it will wake up. She deserves to know the truth as much as anyone.
It’s my responsibility as her parent to give her a mature lesson about the end of life.