Have you noticed that in many children’s movies, someone invariably dies? In the list of Disney’s top grossing animated films, here are ones which include death: Frozen, Bambi, The Lion King, Cinderella, Beauty and the Beast, Mulan, and Sleeping Beauty. These movies touch our hearts, make us cry, and carry us into a deeply satisfying ending. In spite of the death scenes, our children ask to see these movies over and over.
But I’m confused. Why do we let our kids watch Mogli die, yet shield them and ourselves from the reality of death? When a friend or family member is diagnosed with cancer, we say things like, “You’ll be fine. You can fight this. It’s not the end.” Yet it often is the end.
I’m convinced children accept death better than adults. Shortly after my son passed, I was talking with my then five-year-old granddaughter. She pointed to a photo of Bobby and said, “That’s Uncle Bobby. You know, he died.” I know children are notoriously narcissistic, but maybe I can take a lesson from my granddaughter. Maybe we can teach each other about life, death, and eternity.