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Talking death with your child, the importance of a gold fish.

The fear of death is deeply ingrained in our society. Most of the time we miss the subtle signs sent to us from the larger society. Advertizing is one way these signs are communicated. Recently a commercial for a new car demonstrated this concept beautifully. In the commercial a gold fish was floating in a bag of water on the leather seat of a brand new car. The man driving the car was in a rush. Speeding around corners, pulling up to his house and running in with his gold fish he quickly dumps the gold fish in a fish tank. His daughter comes in right after him walks up to the gold fish tank, and says Hi. This was clearly a ritual the little girl engaged every day after school. When the daughter was not looking the mother signals a thumbs up to him that their daughter did not realize it was a different gold fish.

The creators of this commercial believed this experience of replacing one gold fish for another gold fish was an experience everyone viewing the commercial could relate too. It is a common experience. Talking to your children about death is as uncomfortable as having to answer the first questions about sex. It is certainly something many people can emphasize with. There is a chuckle and a nod of understanding while watching the commercial.

The parent’s discomfort has been avoided. They don’t have to talk to their child about death at least today. Here is where the difficulty lies. In avoiding their own fears of talking of death with their child they have robbed the child of an opportunity to learn about death and grief. Each experience with losing some one we love teaches us how to cope with the next loss. Death cannot be avoided. At some time death touches us all.