'One Day, My Parents Were Going To Die,' Viral Post By Content Creator Strikes A Chord With ParentsPlus, tips on how to talk to your child about the concept of death.by Judy Santiago Aladin . Published Nov 6, 2023
Voice talent and content creator Inka Magnaye recently shared her experience of learning about mortality at a young age. In a now viral post on Facebook with over 83k reactions and 8k shares, Inka penned a heartfelt essay about the moment she first discovered the concept of death.
"I was in preschool when I learned that my parents were going to die. Not immediately, but just that they would," she wrote.
Inka went on to recall the moment, saying, "Sitting on the floor at the back of the class made it difficult to see the book Teacher Shiela was reading to us, so I knelt and sat myself on the backs of my heels."
"'Wag kang lumuhod nang ganyan, mamamatay ang mga magulang mo," my classmate said to me. Don’t kneel like that, your parents are going to die. He was probably just repeating some ridiculous old wives' tale he heard at home, nothing malicious."
Inka expressed that this day marked her introduction to the concept of mortality and the realization that her parents wouldn't be with her forever.
"One day, my parents were going to die. And that realization hit me like a truck. I burst into tears. I don’t remember how things happened after that moment. The boy was gently told off (he didn’t know any better) and I ended up on Teacher Shiela’s lap, softly sobbing as she finished reading the story."ADVERTISEMENT - CONTINUE READING BELOW
Her parents learned about the incident at school, and Inka recalled that they talked to her when they got home from work on the same night.
"They sat me down and explained to me that death was a natural part of life and that one day, yes, they will no longer be around (I started crying again), but they would always be with me even after they pass on and go to Heaven."
Now at 34, Inka shared that the thought came to her again, leading her to burst into tears over the fact that her parents will eventually die.
"Your loved ones will not be around forever. Whether it’s your parent or your child or your siblings or significant other. Even your pets." —Inka Magnaye
"There will come a day when I will speak to them for the last time. I will have something spectacular happen to me and will want to tell them about it, but I will not be able to. And truth be told, that feeling didn’t just come back today. I think ever since I knelt that day, I’ve never stopped thinking about my parents’ mortality."CONTINUE READING BELOWwatch now
Her next lines were relatable, "So even through my frustration with them at times, or when we don’t see eye to eye, it pushes me to always seek love and understanding in how my individual relationships with them have evolved."
"Almost like Little Inka is always there to remind me when I forget," she added.
Finally, she left a bittersweet message to her followers to cherish their loved ones before it's too late.
"So I guess Little Inka wants me to remind you that your loved ones will not be around forever. Whether it’s your parent or your child or your siblings or significant other. Even your pets. Remember this while they’re still around."
Reactions to Inka Magnaye's post
A mom left this comment on Inka's post, "Thank you for sharing this story. I burst into tears as well. However we think that the end will come, when it does, it’s always difficult to make it sink in. I lost my 14-year-old son in August, and each time I remember that he isn’t around anymore, I still burst into tears."ADVERTISEMENT - CONTINUE READING BELOW
Another user, whose mom passed away, meanwhile said, "The part where you said "I will have something spectacular happen to me and will want to tell them about it, but I will not be able to," hit me so hard I still think that I'll be able to tell my mama what happened to my day and chika all night pero I can't do it anymore. I often forget that she's with the creator now I know she's in a much better place. I miss her so much."
Age-appropriate ways to talk to kids about death
Recently, I found myself in a conversation with my 6-year-old niece about death. We were in the car and joyfully talking about a loved one who passed away, and who is now looking over us in heaven--perhaps while munching some cotton candy clouds.ADVERTISEMENT - CONTINUE READING BELOW
However, our chat went deeper and she asked me, "Am I going to die?" As truthful as I can, I told her, yes, but not now, and not soon. She then bursted into tears, and I realized I could've better prepared to answer that question.
Here's what to tell your kids when the topic of death comes up, according to experts.
Infants & Toddlers (0-3 years):
Very Well Family advises that you consider start talking about the concept of death when your child is about three years old.
"Create an accessible framework, such as the death of a pet, a bug on the sidewalk, or a character in a storybook," said Alyza Berman, LCSW RRT, a psychotherapist.
Infants and toddlers can't grasp the concept of death, but they can sense your emotions. If your family is affected by a death, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that you maintain routines and provide extra physical comfort to create a sense of security. Be mindful of your own need to grieve while caring for your child.ADVERTISEMENT - CONTINUE READING BELOW
Preschoolers (3-5 years):
Preschoolers see death as temporary, like in cartoons where characters come back to life. Use simple and clear language to explain death. Avoid euphemisms like "gone to sleep" or "passed away" as they may confuse children.
Dr. Berman explains, "Some children may feel lied to or like you were hiding the truth, so being direct and honest will always work in your favor in the long term." Be prepared for repeated questions about the deceased. Recognize that play is a way for young children to express their feelings.
School-Aged Children (6-12 years):
School-aged children begin to understand death as final but may not grasp its universality. Offer honest explanations and encourage them to express their feelings. They might be able to understand that death is what happens when the heart stops pumping or the lungs stop breathing. Address any misunderstandings they may have and reassure them that they are not to blame. Expect concerns about being left alone and provide comfort and support.ADVERTISEMENT - CONTINUE READING BELOW
Teens (13-18 years):
Teens understand death on an adult level but may struggle to express their emotions. They may engage in risky behaviors or grapple with existential questions. Encourage them to find healthy ways to grieve, like exercise, creative outlets, talking to friends or family, and seeking support. Model healthy coping strategies and show that reaching out for help is a sign of strength. They might also want to be told more details about how a specific incident or an illness led to death.
In case you're not sure how to handle the topic, experts suggest that starting with the basics won't hurt. Your child's response may help you understand what they can comprehend about death and dying.
If you don't know how to answer their questions about death, it's okay to be honest with them that you haven't figured out the answer to their question yet. It's perfectly fine for kids to realize and learn that there are some things, like death, that their parents don't fully know about.ADVERTISEMENT - CONTINUE READING BELOW
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