Death is one of those topics that we know we should get to “someday”, but what usually happens is that we get blindsided by necessity when we witness an accident or some relative or friend is suddenly struck down. At that point, teaching your kids about a tough subject is not only unavoidable, but you have the added pressure of emotional involvement. In my mind, having the luxury of a little distance is the best argument for talking about these topics now.
The best thing you can do is take a little refresher course on just what the Church teaches and that’s why this lesson (and next week’s as well) both start with Parent Pages just for you.
The rest of this lesson is mostly contained in a story: The Marcus Family Talks About Aunt Alice’s Death. As you can guess, a family member dies and the kids have questions. What happens when we die? Where does our soul go? Do we become angels? Pre-read it, of course, but we’re confident that you will find the story to be a very positive and gentle presentation of the topic which answers questions your kids may not have even thought of yet.
For the activities, you’ll find one of our favorite ones ever! The “Soul Man” is so simple that you cannot possibly have an excuse not to do it, but at the same time, he illustrates a profound lesson. Our bodies will stay here; our souls will go to God, and eventually, the two will be reunited – it’s a fantastic use for a window cling. Seeing this simple demonstration makes the concepts clear to all ages and you’ll probably find your kids trying it out over and over again.
The other activity is more advanced and is for anyone who is old enough to look up verses in the Bible and Catechism. There is a page full of game card references. Cut them apart, look them up and see if they belong under the heading of Death, Judgment, or Resurrection. There are lots of great skills involved in this activity, and you’ll learn lots as you go through it. (And if you don’t have a Catechism, try this searchable online version.)
The reason to prepare for death is not only its inevitability. We prepare now because this is the only chance we get to do it right so we can spend eternity with Jesus! At the moment of death, our soul leaves our body and meets Jesus face-to-face. Jesus will judge all our thoughts, words, and actions while on earth based on how much we loved and obeyed God. Based on this judgment, our soul will be on its way to either heaven, hell, or purgatory.
He will come again in glory
to judge the living and the dead
and his kingdom will have no end.
One day, Jesus will return in glory, all bodies will be united with their souls and the consequences of everyone’s deeds will be made known to all mankind. From there, we will all spend eternity in our well-deserved final destinations.
One more thing – I always recommend that parents tuck this lesson away in a file somewhere to pull out again when someone you know has died. It’ll be a very teachable-moment time and you may appreciate the refresher course.