That is Called Dying (More or Less)

By Wendy Thomas Russell | March 24, 2014

I’ve written reams about how to talk with children about death without resorting to religious imagery. My daughter nails it in a single sentence. I’m beginning to think I’m no longer needed here. Read more – ‘That is Called Dying (More or Less)’.
A Nonbeliever’s Near-Death Experience

By Wendy Thomas Russell | May 30, 2013

So can we talk about near-death experiences for a minute? You know — the whole tunnels-and-bright-lights thing? I bring it up because a good friend recently shared with me a YouTube video featuring an 18-year-old with heart disease. In the video, the high school senior, whose name is Ben Breedlove, uses index cards and music to tell the story of his life, his illness and his three near-death experiences. Viewed more than 2 million times, the video seems to be Breedlove’s way of explaining what it’s like to pass from one world to the next and back […] Read more – ‘A Nonbeliever’s Near-Death Experience’.
Want Your Kids to Have An Easier Time Dealing With Death? Don’t Send Them to Their Rooms to Cry

By Wendy Thomas Russell | May 6, 2013

People never “get over” the death of a loved one. Sadness comes and goes, and that’s natural. But  they can, according to Russell Friedman of the Grief Recovery Institute, “complete” their grief. That is, they can grieve in a way that allows for happy memories to reign over painful ones. For life to overshadow death. Despite intermittent waves of sadness, people can recover from their grief and move on with their lives. But grief completion doesn’t just happen, Friedman contends. People have to make it happen. Grief recovery, he says, requires that people be fully present and engaged […] Read more – ‘Want Your Kids to Have An Easier Time Dealing With Death? Don’t Send Them to Their Rooms to Cry’.
Memory Candles a Secular Way for Kids to Honor Their Dead

By Wendy Thomas Russell | May 2, 2013

This is how my good friend Katie describes herself: “A confused Catholic married to a cultural Jew, raising a moral, but interfaithless family.” You love her too now, right? So anyway, the other day Katie and I were talking about a recent blog I’d written about the importance of talking with our kids about our dead loved ones in “happy terms.” She said she’d really struggled with this herself, having lost her mom nine years ago to cancer. She still experiences lingering pain, and sometimes the loss makes her profoundly sad. (I expect she’s not […] Read more – ‘Memory Candles a Secular Way for Kids to Honor Their Dead’.
12 Tips for Talking to Little Ones About Death

By Wendy Thomas Russell | April 16, 2013

When American children return from school today, many will undoubtedly have questions about the Boston Marathon bombings — having glimpsed photographs, viewed video clips or spoken to peers. Depending on the age of your child, you might have some questions yourself: How much do I say? How much do I share? Click here for some great advice from Dr. Gene Beresin on CommonHealth for discussing the event — and others like it  — with kids. Or read on for 12 general tips, revised from an earlier list, for talking to little ones about death. 1. Have […] Read more – ‘12 Tips for Talking to Little Ones About Death’.
Don’t Just Hang in There: It’s Time to Retire Certain Myths about Grief

By Wendy Thomas Russell | April 8, 2013

If this poster looks at all familiar, you were probably alive in the 80s. For many years, a kitten hanging from a tree branch with the tagline “Hang in there” was as ubiquitous an image as you were likely to find. The pre-Internet version of LOLCats. (What is up with Americans’ weird fascination with captioned cat pictures?) Anyway, the reason I bring it up is because that poster informed how I looked at “hard times” when I was a kid. “Sometimes life sucks and you’ve just got to hold on,” is what I took from […] Read more – ‘Don’t Just Hang in There: It’s Time to Retire Certain Myths about Grief’.
Thinking About the Best Ways to Comfort Grieving Kids? Think Again.

By Wendy Thomas Russell | April 4, 2013

Ten months ago, I wrote a blog called Heaven Doesn’t Help Us: Talking to Kids About Death. It’s all about how religious platitudes are useless when it comes to explaining death to young children. In fact, according to numerous child psychologists and grief experts I’d interviewed at the time, talk of heaven is rarely a comfort at all. But what I failed to realize at the time — in fact, what I failed to realize until this week — is that this whole notion of comfort is part of the problem. Russell Friedman, co-founder of […] Read more – ‘Thinking About the Best Ways to Comfort Grieving Kids? Think Again.’.
Discussing Death with Little Ones (Whose Deaths We Fear So Much)

By Wendy Thomas Russell | December 17, 2012

Not since 9/11 has a tragedy so deeply affected our nation as the massacre of 20 first-graders and six school administrators in Connecticut on Friday. It seems to me, words were not meant to communicate this level of horror. Our capacity for emotional pain is so much deeper than our capacity to verbalize what has happened. Sometimes silence and tears are our only option. But when it comes to children, we have a duty to discuss death and dying. It is an important part of parenting, and we mustn’t shy away from it. Yes, it’s […] Read more – ‘Discussing Death with Little Ones (Whose Deaths We Fear So Much)’.
My Last Will and Testament (Sort Of)

By Wendy Thomas Russell | December 13, 2012

One thing about being a nonreligious parent is that I have no expectation of an afterlife. I believe that when I leave the universe, I leave it for good. And whatever “spirit” I have survives only in the memories of the people I love. Which is enough. Honestly, it is. But it also makes me hyper-aware of what I leave behind. And that is especially true when it comes to my daughter. For the first few years of her life, I couldn’t help but be concerned that I would die, and all of what we’d […] Read more – ‘My Last Will and Testament (Sort Of)’.
12 Mistakes Parents Make When Talking to Kids About Death (Part II)

By Wendy Thomas Russell | June 21, 2012

I’m back with again with my Grim Reaper friend. I like that little guy. Just wish he were more cheerful. Anyway, in my last post I described six mistakes parents make when talking death with kids. Well, apparently, we screw up A LOT because here’s a whole other six: 7. We yada-yada over the science part. Talking about decomposing bodies may seem a ghoulish proposition, but the actual science of death is not only fascinating to children (particularly preschoolers), but can be comforting, too. It’s true that adults tend to focus their worry on the emotional aspects of death […] Read more – ‘12 Mistakes Parents Make When Talking to Kids About Death (Part II)’.

Relax, It’s Just God

A Blog for Secular Parents
For parents who aren’t religious, the task of talking to children about religion can be daunting. So daunting, in fact, that the entire subject often gets glossed over or ignored completely. Relax, It’s Just God is a blog (and soon a book) intended to help parents break their silence without breaking a sweat.
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