My kids, for the most part, think it’s pretty cool to live in a cemetery. They love that they have lots of room to roam and play and to ride their backs. In the summer they have brought wildflowers to the graves in the old part of the cemetery where no one really comes to visit anymore and they brought some toy cars to add to the grave of a young boy that passed away. Some interesting conversations have taken place, and unusual rules have been made because of our unique living arrangements.
My five-year-old son was very concerned by zombies. I had to explain to him the process of internment so that he would understand that it is almost impossible for a zombie to escape what with the burial vault and sealed casket… My eight-year-old has still figured out that the quickest way to scare his brother…and me sometimes for that matter, is to say that he hears someone walking around the cemetery when we are trying to get into the car after dark to pick up their dad from work. Sometimes it’s very hard to have to remain the rational reasonable adult when I realize that I am the only person not safely inside the car.
My children have also become cemetery snobs. We passed the other cemetery in town and my son said: “our cemetery is better, right mom?”
He then concluded that that cemetery had zombies while ours didn’t.
I’ve asked my kids what their friends think about them living in a cemetery, but trying to talk to one’s own children can be as pointless as trying to have a decent conversation with a cat.
Most of the rules that my kids have are no different than those of any other kid: don’t hit your siblings, clean your room, don’t tell fibs, finish your homework….stay away from open graves, be respectful of mourners, don’t ride your bikes during burials and be respectful of the graves. My son took this last one to mean that if you touch a tombstone, you’ll get “haunted souls”. Since explaining to him that it was okay to touch the stones, as long as you do it respectfully, he loves to touch them all.
I believe that it is healthy for kids to have a realistic understanding of death. My children understand that when you die, you don’t come back. That it makes people very sad and that is why we have to be respectful to our visitors. My children attend a Catholic school so they also believe that when you die you go to heaven and that you don’t come back from heaven. They understand that mommy is studying to become a Funeral Director; and that it means that mommy would be working with dead people. When my children ask me questions about death, I try to answer them as truthfully and as honestly as I can.
I do try to make sure that they understand that not all parents are as comfortable with the topic as I am, and that they have to be respectful of the fact that other kids may not know as much and that their parents might not want them to.