Exposing kids to real death can instill the value of life

By Beanie Taylor - beanietaylor@elkintribune.com
Beanie Taylor -

We need to make it a point to allow our children to experience the negative.

It is through the negative that we learn to value life.

This is the first step in preventing such shootings as that which took place at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.

Until I was 5 I had no idea that people shouted at one another. They didn’t necessarily always agree but raised voices happened only in laughter.

During my early childhood education classes, we were told that these are the most formative years of a person’s life.

That was probably why it was so incredibly devastating that the first time I realized the world could be a truly unpleasant place was when I watched a mother beat her daughter until the child cowered under the table.

These moments of abrupt education are not only unforgettable, but the impact of the shattered reality can overshadow everything that came before it.

I was actually younger than that when I attended my first funeral, another unforgettable moment.

My aunt was the first one at my side the first funeral I ever went to as well as the most recent one; the one was her mother, the other her husband.

I remember my aunt explaining to me that Grandma was sleeping and she wouldn’t wake up again until she was in Heaven.

I had never seen my dad so angry before.

He made it a point to explain to me the difference between sleeping and death. Not only did he want to make sure I wasn’t afraid of people who were sleeping, but that death is a natural part of life and something we will all have to deal with eventually.

My grandparents, who were the consistent parental influence throughout my life, always made it a point to take me with them to family funerals.

They also always made it a point to share memories and laughter not just with me, but with others attending the funeral.

I got to watch as they comforted those closest to the deceased, and because they also never made me leave the room for significant conversations, I got to hear people share with my grandparents their greatest pain.

I have no doubt this is why I value people the way I do. Whether I know the deceased or not, I have seen the sorrow that can be left behind, after all millions have been impacted by the death of 17 people in Parkland.

Very few people have this kind of experience with death.

Most people choose to keep their children away from experiencing as much sorrow as possible, and losing a loved one certainly can be the deepest of pain.

Keeping a child away from the reality of death also may be preventing them from truly understanding the value of life.

Why should they understand the value of life if they have no concept of death?

Eventually we all encounter death, whether it be the death of a pet, distant cousin, neighbor, or family member, we each attended our first funeral.

How old were you when you understood that when someone died they were gone in a way that changed your life?

At whatever age it happens, it begins to change the way we think. Even if we are not old enough to understand how it all fits into place, we look at the world differently.

From the little things like saying goodbye to the kids each morning or watching a grandparent sleep because you’re afraid they will never wake up, to a godchild losing their first tooth on your 40th birthday or a mother dying on Mother’s Day which was the same day on which her mother died, everything takes on new meaning.

So does the actual meaning of what it is to be alive.

There are great songs, books and movies about living your best life because time is short, but how often do we discuss how that applies to others around us, after all, their lives are potentially just as short and deserving of joy?

How often do we discuss any of the media that bombards our lives?

Perhaps in addition to being more conscientious of the live action violence we expose not just our children but ourselves to, we should talk about some of the basics.

Valuing life has less to do with violent culture and more to do with our experience of death.

Beanie Taylor is a staff reporter for The Tribune. She can be reached at 336-258-4058 or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/TBeanieTaylor.

Beanie Taylor
https://www.elkintribune.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/02/web1_IMG_3544-3.jpgBeanie Taylor

By Beanie Taylor