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Answering Childrens Question About Death

It's important that parents have a clear understanding of death themselves so they can better answer their children's questions. You might want to review what the Bible says to clarify your own thinking on the subject and to prepare you to answer typical questions.

What Is It Like to Die?

If your child is old enough to understand (late preschool years or beyond), you might want to bring up the biblical concept that death is similar to sleep, though not exactly the same. The following texts may be helpful to you as you try to explain death to your child.

Start with the story of Lazarus in where Jesus told His disciples that Lazarus was sleeping and then clarified what He meant by saying that he was dead. Jesus often tried to make difficult, abstract concepts more clear by comparing them to something familiar. He compared death to sleep because in sound sleep there is no consciousness, no awareness of what's going on. Make clear to the child that death is something like sleep because you don't know what's going on around you, but it is not sleep. Only Jesus is able to “wake up” a dead person.

Where Do You Go When You Die?

I think the best answer is “When you die, you don't go anyplace.” At least that seems to me to be the biblical answer.

The simple explanation is that the body goes back to dust just as it came from the ground when God created Adam, and because God is the only one that can give the breath of life (or the spirit, as it is called in the Bible), it goes back to God for safekeeping.

Explain to older children that on the resurrection day God will put the breath of life (or the spirit) back into the new bodies that He creates for people, and from then on they will live forever. These new bodies will look the same enough that people will recognize each other, but their bodies will be perfect. No scars or blemishes, no crippled legs, no crooked backs!

Pets in Heaven

The Bible doesn't say anything about the resurrection of pets, but it does say that “with God all things are possible.” If your child feels that heaven won't be right without them, then why destroy his love of heaven by callously saying that God resurrects only people? I still remember my childhood hope that my little colt will be there waiting for me in heaven. With a God who can do anything, why not?

Why We Die

Another common question children ask is “Why do we have to die?” The Bible says that we die because we have sinned. “The wages of sin is death”. Even quite young children can realize that they have sinned by disobeying Mommy or Daddy, or by telling a lie. But reassure your child that Jesus made it possible for us to live forever because He died for our sins.

This might be confusing unless you explain to your child that the Bible really tells about two kinds of death. We will all experience the first death unless Jesus comes before we die. But that death is only like a moment to the dead person, because from the time he dies he doesn't know anything until Jesus resurrects him.

There is also a second death mentioned in the Bible, and this death is eternal. People who die the second death have no more chance of life. Jesus died to save us from this second death. If we accept Him and the sacrifice He made for us, we may have to die once, but we are assured of a resurrection time, and after that we will never die again.

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