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Readers offer some insights on "how life ends" chats with kids

By Todd Franko (Contact)


Published September 21, 2009

Three emails came in Sunday that furthered the topic of how to discuss death with children. Click on my Sunday column to understand why the emails arrived. Read the emails below.

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Hello Mr. Franko,

I am a 32-year-old pastor in Poland and I don't normally read through all the paper on Sunday.  Usually by the time I have time on Monday my wife has already cleaned house and the paper with it!  The last time I read your article you were apologizing for the misprint concerning the Canfield Fair.
I remember feeling bad that it happened and then being thankful for you willingness to publish it.

I came across you article today and really felt impressed to reply.

You hit the nail on the head when you said that this is your only lap in life and to make it the best one. Yet, no life is complete without preparing for what comes after death. It would seem vain to live this life to the fullest and learn all the lessons and experience all there was, only to find we did not make it count for what comes after. My purpose is only to tell you that you can know how to be prepared. We are not left here aimlessly wandering this planet for our three score and ten years.
I hope that you will find this and then pass it on to your boy.  I have 3 boys of my own and I am so thankful that I can help them with this.

Thanks again for the reminder of the brevity of life.  Oh - and by the way - this grief specialist thinks you did a great job!

Sincerely,
Joel Royalty
www.gbcpoland.com

PS Let me know if I can be of any help in this matter or any others!!  Would
love to talk!

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Dear Mr. Franko,

As I was reading your column in today's edition of the Vindicator, you, were speaking of explaining how to tell your children about death.

I have experienced death in my family from grandparents to both my parents.

Here's a little suggestion on keeping those memories of loved ones passing on before us -- make a pictorial memoir of all the loved ones in your family who've passed on.

This way, your children not only will understand in your explaining death to them. Also, the pictorial memoir will be a treasure for when your children are adults, they'll have precious memories of all those family members that've gone on before them.

You wonder why I suggest this? My maternal grandmother started a family genealogy project years ago in the 1980s and asked me to help her when she was getting toward her 80s year of age.
Once I started, I was hooked...for, there were many notes and photographs of my ancestors (one example...I have a photograph of my g-g-grandfather.)
When my grandmother passed away in 1996 (she was a few years shy of 90), my uncle (her son), the day of the funeral dinner...gathered the family together and stated he was going to give all of the notes and photographs to me.
As so...this family project would get finished.

It took me two years of traveling to the library in Butler Co., PA and countless hours researching at the Youngstown Library on Wick Ave.

Once I was finished, I, presented a booklet to each family member.

Though...I have to laugh, my, computer exhausted itself out. What with all the scanning of the photographs and writing and placing the booklets together.

My husband awarded me with a new computer package that same Christmas of presenting the booklets to my family.

I surmise your children are of school age...what a great project this to gather notes, old photos and such from other family members in your realm of relatives. Start a project of genealogy for the richness in showing the children where their family history started.

I'm glad my grandmother had all this rich history of notes and photographs and just let me say...I traced my ancestors back to the 1700s.

Thank you,
Debbie

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Hey Todd: Enjoyed your article "making the best....."  What's up with all the self-depricating stuff on dad-hood? We all make it up as we go along......you're just very honest about it. Luckily for us, as long as we live & breath, we can keep amending/learning/improving.

Good reminder to make life the best.....even if it's not the only lap we get.....it's probably like the movie "Groundhog Day" - we keep coming back & repeating things until we get them right!

P.S. another good flick on not letting fear get in your way in life is "Defending Your Life" with Albert Brooks and Meryl Streep. Who knew death could be funny?

 


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