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8yr old and “obsession” with death


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#1 lizzybirdsworth

Posted 09 October 2019 - 06:07 PM

Ds2 is 8 and in the last year has become obsessed (not my choice of word but what I’m being told by others) with death.
He wants to know everything from what happens to your body, cremations and burials, to do you miss xyz, were they sick, how old were you/they when they died.
I have tried giving him the facts in age appropriate ways but other family members (mil, fil and some others) think he needs a psychiatrist ASAP as it’s not normal to be this obsessed and it’s upsetting everyone.

Is it normal? Should I be talking to someone about it?
Thanks

#2 Living Type

Posted 09 October 2019 - 06:14 PM

Following. I am having the exact same issue with my 8 year old. What worries him most is dying himself and the fact that he doesn’t want to die. In our case it’s only been going on a few weeks so hopefully he’ll move onto something else soon.

#3 PizzaPlease

Posted 09 October 2019 - 06:26 PM

Is he distressed or just curious? If it's really upsetting or worrying him then seeking help might make sense but otherwise I'm a bit unclear on what the family expects a psychiatrist to do.

I'm also wondering whether something specific has prompted his curiosity. If your family or social circle has experienced a loss it would make sense that he would need time to process what has happened.

#4 NeedSleepNow

Posted 09 October 2019 - 06:29 PM

I think it is normal. DS went through this stage at 5. I mostly just answered his questions in age appropriate ways, although sometimes when the line of questioning dragged on too long or it was an inappropriate time, I needed to let him know he could ask questions later.

#5 No Drama Please

Posted 09 October 2019 - 06:32 PM

I only have my own experience but I don’t think it’s upsetting to talk about death or dying or to try and get facts or information about it. Kids are curious about loads of different things.

If he was talking about how he wished he would die or other people or trying to harm himself or others or pets it would be different but I wouldn’t be racing off to a psychologist because it makes adults feel uncomfortable. There should be more open honest conversations about death and dying not less.

#6 Ghost Girl

Posted 09 October 2019 - 06:32 PM

Following as well, as my 8 year old DD is a this stsge too. We have had a 3 older relatives pass away in last few months and other ones, quite sick, so lots of conversations around her about death. I've lost count of the late night conversations we have had about death and dying, with lots of tears and worry.

#7 lizzybirdsworth

Posted 09 October 2019 - 06:42 PM

This time last year his friends little sister passed away (she was 5) and during last term another little girl the year older than him passed away in a car accident. I spoke to his teacher at parent teacher a week after the accident and she seemed to think the same as me that it’s a natural curiosity and to just give him the facts and move on and most of the boys in her class wanted to know all the details about the accident. My parents did take him to the cemetery on Monday morning to see my sister and it was his first time there and then he went to the in-laws and constantly talked about it which has brought up the subject again and they are quite forceful in their way of talking to us about it and not listening to me that I think it’s normal behavior.

#8 **Xena**

Posted 09 October 2019 - 06:47 PM

I'd say it's normal, my DD was the same (still loves horror etc). She did attend a rainbow program in school for children dealing with death etc after her friend died. It was beneficial and a great space for kids to work through their questions.

If he seems at all anxious or upset then it would be worth getting extra psych help. I have mortality related anxiety and at its worst it was extremely debilitating and awful.

#9 PizzaPlease

Posted 09 October 2019 - 06:50 PM

View Postlizzybirdsworth, on 09 October 2019 - 06:42 PM, said:

This time last year his friends little sister passed away (she was 5) and during last term another little girl the year older than him passed away in a car accident. I spoke to his teacher at parent teacher a week after the accident and she seemed to think the same as me that it’s a natural curiosity and to just give him the facts and move on and most of the boys in her class wanted to know all the details about the accident. My parents did take him to the cemetery on Monday morning to see my sister and it was his first time there and then he went to the in-laws and constantly talked about it which has brought up the subject again and they are quite forceful in their way of talking to us about it and not listening to me that I think it’s normal behavior.

With that context it seems like a perfectly normal reaction to me. I can understand that the conversation may have been confronting and difficult for your in-laws but that doesn't mean there is anything unusual about his questions. You could maybe word him up that the topic makes those particular relatives uncomfortable if you think that would help but it all sounds pretty normal to me given the circumstances.

#10 Not Escapin Xmas

Posted 09 October 2019 - 07:03 PM

Sounds normal to me. You should hear some of the crazy convos i have with DD, who is also 8.

#11 Dianalynch

Posted 09 October 2019 - 07:17 PM

Natural curiosity and (I think) completely normal - it’s been the same with my two kids.

#12 JoanJett

Posted 09 October 2019 - 07:23 PM

I think it's normal and natural curiosity, particularly peaked by the setting of the events you have described.  

He may need guidance that some people don't like to talk about death (sounds like your ILs could be included), as it reminds them of personal and painful memories and their own fears.  Perhaps you could nominate the people who are comfortable talking to him as "safe" people to talk to and ask questions.  

Our discomfort with the topic of death as a society is really a modern phenomenon.  100 years ago, most families were touched by death regularly - by war, simple infections, malnutrition, complications of childbirth, cancer and on and on.

#13 CallMeFeral

Posted 09 October 2019 - 09:30 PM

The adults getting upset by a kid asking about death are in as much need of a psychiatrist as he is.

He sounds totally normal. Maybe just try and gauge though how much fear he is feeling (and maybe hiding) behind those questions. Just asking questions like "are you worried about you dying? Or one of us?" just so that he can express those fears if he's having them.
My son was very interested in all the ins and outs of tsunamis a couple of years ago. Recently he told me that back then he was worried about our house being washed away in a tsunami, but he didn't express that at the time. So sometimes it's worth probing a little. But it could just be curiosity. And even if there's some fear as well, that is normal too.

#14 alchetta

Posted 09 October 2019 - 10:18 PM

I think totally normal. At ten I lost a friend in a car accident and went through something similar but was really quiet about it. I suspect the adamant family members may be contributing to the curiosity/anxiety if they're getting worked up about it instead of very matter of factly answering questions or asking their own questions. Could be wrong though.

I think if you're confident to discuss it as openly and frankly as possible and address the fear component with logical explanations and assurances - these different depending on people's beliefs about death - then do so, and acknowledge that other people can also be distressed by dwelling on it so maybe your child can take on their own role of reassurance through understanding. However it's very complex and depends on the child and your own beliefs and fears too, and at the extreme, sufferers of OCD can be crippled by thoughts. If there's some kind of program like the aforementioned rainbow program that would be great. A psychologist could be helpful too but that probably depends whether you feel it would dramatise the concept even more for your child if they had to have a special appointment to talk about it. I'd only resort to that if it was causing real anxiety for your child. If the child is happy enough but it's causing real anxiety for the adult family members then you'll need to explain that to the child as well, or else they'll be the ones wanting to see a psychologist to address their own anxiety!

Disclaimer, I have no experience of this from the parenting perspective. But reiterating team "totally normal" from my own experience. I'm fine about death as a concept now.

#15 lizzybirdsworth

Posted 09 October 2019 - 10:33 PM

Thanks everyone 😀. We just got home from picking ds up from in-laws and spoke to him on the way home about it. Explained to him about it being a sensitive subject and that he can talk to me and dad about it anytime but not to in-laws because it can upset him.
I might mention it to his teacher again and see if maybe the school councillor can check on the kids and see if they are coping after the death of their school mate.




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