There seems to be an overwhelmingly dark energy surrounding the concept of death because society teaches us that it represents “goodbye.” In reality, when a loved one dies, our souls aren’t saying goodbye to each other, but rather, “See you soon.” Even though death may represent our final chapter on Earth, our souls continue on and will eventually reunite. We are all fundamentally connected to one another, so in a way, we never really leave one another.
Part of the human experience includes our emotional bodies. We have a full range of emotions on a very broad spectrum and often times, when dealing with loss or grief, we cast our emotions aside. By not allowing our emotions to pass through us, they imprint on our hearts, which in Sanskrit is called a “Samskara.” This imprint, or Samskara, creates an emotional blockage, which prevents us from enjoying the joys in life because life is always competing with that emotional block or event. A crucial part in accepting death and saying “see you soon” to another soul is to accept our emotions. This can be difficult for adults to understand, let alone to try to explain to children. Thankfully, the following books can help children and adults alike to accept life and death, as they illustrate the beauty in these counterparts.
Cry, Heart, But Never Break by Glenn Ringtved
Inspired by his own experience in trying to explain his mother’s death to his children, Danish Author Glenn Ringtved wrote this enchanting tale, teaching us the importance of accepting death and the beauty in duality. The title Cry, Heart, But Never Break was actually a phrase his mother said, emphasizing that we can feel our emotions without our world crashing down.
The story starts with Death entering into the home of a dying woman and her four grandchildren. It’s clear that Death has come for the older woman, but in an effort to not frighten the kids, Death leaves its scythe by the door, showing that Death isn’t this dark energy we often perceive it to be. The children quickly realize what’s happening, so they continuously pour Death cups of coffee, trying to stall the inevitable. They sit around the table drinking coffee together, a clear display of the normalcy in Death and how natural it is.
One of the children asks Death, “Why does Grandma have to die?”
In response, Death tells a story of four children, Sorrow and Grief, who lived life sadly and slowly, and Joy and Delight, who lived life happily but felt something was missing because they couldn’t fully enjoy their happiness. Once the couples finally met, they fell in love because they are perfect counterparts, Sorrow and Joy, and Grief and Delight.
Death explains, “It is the same with life and death… What would life be worth if there were no death? Who would enjoy the sun if it never rained? Who would yearn for the day if there were no night?”
The book reads, “Some people say Death’s heart is as dead and black as a piece of coal, but that is not true. Beneath his inky cloak, Death’s heart is as red as the most beautiful sunset and beats with a great love of life.”
The book ends by Death taking the grandmother and the children experience a moment of immense sadness, and then a wave of peacefulness washes over them. They accept Death and, in a way, come to appreciate it, a lesson we could all find value in learning.
The Little Soul and The Sun by Neale Donald Walsch
What is essentially Walsch’s infamous novel Conversations With God transformed into a heart-warming short story, The Little Soul and The Sun explores reincarnation, duality, oneness, and the beauty in finding lessons within every experience.
The story starts off with a dialogue between a very young soul and God. The Little Soul is curious about its identity and even though it knows it is The Light, it wants to experience what it’s like to feel light. God compares the Little Soul to a candle that is one of millions that lights up the Sun, and without the Little Soul’s bright candlelight, the Sun wouldn’t be the Sun.
To satisfy the Little Soul’s curiosity, God creates darkness. God tells the Little Soul not to fear darkness because ultimately, it is an illusion, that which we are not. Since the Little Soul can’t remember ever experiencing darkness, God explains, “It is a great gift, because without it, you could not know what anything is like. You could not know Warm without Cold, Up without Down, Fast without Slow.”
The Little Soul decides that in order to satisfy its desire to feel The Light, it needs to experience forgiveness; however, it has nothing to forgive. God explains that everything in creation is perfect, there is not one soul that’s better or worse than another because they are all equal in their perfection.
A crowd of souls gather around to listen to their conversation. Then, the Friendly Soul emerges from the crowd and volunteers to come into the Little Soul’s next lifetime to give it something to forgive. However, the Little Soul is confused as to why the Friendly Soul would voluntarily become “dark and dense.”
The Friendly Soul responds, “Because I love you… you have done the same thing for me. Don’t you remember? Oh, we have danced together, you and I, many times. Through the eons and across all the ages have we danced. Across all time and in many places have we played together. You just don’t remember.”
In return, the Friendly Soul asks for a favour, requesting the Little Soul to remember who the Friendly Soul really is, a beacon of light and love. In the moment that the Friendly Soul does something perceivably unforgivable, the Friendly Soul will have been pretending so hard that it will forget what it truly is. The Friendly Soul asks the Little Soul to remind it of its inner beauty, The Light.
The story ends with God smiling at the two souls and saying, “Always remember, I have sent you nothing but angels.” This tale is a beautiful reminder of what we truly are; The Light. We are all the same and duality is merely an illusion, one that can teach us invaluable lessons.
The Heart and the Bottle by Oliver Jeffers
Jeffers spins a thought provoking tale we can all relate to. The Heart and the Bottle illustrates how many of us bottle up our emotions instead of facing them head on, ultimately preventing us from truly experiencing and embracing the ups and downs in life.
The story starts off by giving us a glimpse into the relationship between a father and his daughter. The father inspires the young girl by educating her on the wonders of the world and all it has to offer, spiking her curiosity and thirst for knowledge. However, one day the father disappears from the picture, and the weight on the little girl’s heart becomes too much to bear. Instead of grieving the loss of her father, she removes her heart from her chest and places it in a bottle for safe keeping.
At first, this fixes things, but she eventually realizes that by locking away her deepest pain, she in turn locked away her ability to feel other extremities such as love and happiness as well. It’s not until she enters into adulthood that she is reminded of her once curious Self. As she watches another little girl curiously explore the beach, something her and her father used to do, that same curiosity she once had ignites within her.
She decides to set out on a journey to free her heart, but she learns that the more time passed, the more difficult it became for her heart to escape the bottle. As fate would have it, she reconnects with that same little girl she once saw playing in the sand, who helps her unleash her heart from its confinement.
Whether this little girl was her inner child waiting to be healed or an actual human being, this story still sheds light on the emotional traumas many of us experience in childhood, which we then carry with us into adulthood. This tale also reflects how common it is for people to bottle up their emotions. Many of us don’t realize that by failing to acknowledge the “downs” in life, we cannot truly enjoy the “ups.”
Society has a tendency to talk down to children because we assume they can’t handle real emotions. This teaches children that emotions are somehow scary and that they shouldn’t feel them to their fullest extent. We even shame each other for our emotions, encouraging people not to cry or get overly excited.
You can articulate the truth compassionately to children without hiding the gravity of a situation. If you’re struggling with how to do so, I suggest reading these books to your children. Even though you’ll find them in the Children’s section of a book store, I guarantee you will learn just as much from these books as any child would!
“If you are protected from dark things then you have no protection of, knowledge of, or understanding of dark things when they show up.” – Neil Gaiman, Author
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