Conversations with Children: Pros and Cons of Reincarnation

(Note: I wouldn’t normally post two ‘Conversations with Children’ in a row, but I didn’t want to forget this conversation.)

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We’re in the car, where so many of our conversations seem to happen. Six-year-old Big Brother has been quiet for a while, thinkingthinkingthinking.  And then the question.

“Mummy, after I die will I come back and be born again?”

As often happens, I find myself mentally pinwheeling. What should I say? What’s the right answer? I don’t even know what I think about reincarnation beyond a vague sense of generic maybe-ness, but my son is looking to me for reassurance and understanding. How do I answer this question with honesty, simplicity, and compassion?

“Well,” I say slowly. “You might.”

“Do people come back again as babies after they die?”

“Some people do,” I say, struggling to put my hitherto unspoken thoughts into words. “Sometimes people choose to come back and be born again, and sometimes people choose to stay dead and live in the Afterlife.”

“I’m going to be born again,” says the boy who was born with the most ancient, knowing eyes I’ve ever seen. “And when I am, if people give me another name I’m going to tell them they’re wrong and I already know my name. I’ll be Big Brother forever.”

I smile. “Will you?”

“Yes.” A pause. Hesitation. “Can I do that?”

“Well,” I say again, my mind racing but my voice calm and measured. “Usually when people are born they don’t remember if they had another life before. So you might not remember your name, because you’d come back as a baby.”

“Oh,” he says. “But… When you die, are you going to choose to come back?”

The questions keep coming, and I don’t know where the conversation is going, and I’m feeling a little scared. Of what, I don’t know.

“I might,” I say.

“Then we can come back together. I don’t want to be born to someone else. I always want you to be with me. So when you come back, I’ll just wait in the Afterlife until you’ve grown up to an adult and then you can born me again. Okay?”

“Okay,” I say. I can’t say anything else. I’m fighting back tears of… of something I can’t name, and trying to drive, and trying not to sound like I’m… like I’m feeling whatever I’m feeling.

“How many days will that take?” my beautiful son asks.

“How many days will what take?”

“How many days will it take for you to be a grown-up?”

“Um. Quite a few.”

He thinks. “I’ve changed my mind,” he says. “I don’t want to be away from you  for lots of days. We should both just not be born again and stay in the Afterlife. Then we can be together forever and ever and ever.”

He reaches his hand towards me at the same moment I reached mine back to him.

“I love you, Mummy,” he says.

And the tears flow, whether I want them to or not.




Filed under Life With Kids

14 responses to “Conversations with Children: Pros and Cons of Reincarnation

  1. Our cells reincarnate over various periods of time, so it would be odd if the parts of our soul did not.

  2. I attended a daughter's field trip where a speaker presented the idea that we have all "drunk Moses." The theory is that Moses came and went, and the body he left behind returned to the earth, seeping into the groundwater, and flowing into the ocean–where the wet is absorbed by clouds and rained down to nourish the earth and . . . you get it.

    Whether the souls or bodies are recycled or rerouted isn't the point. The love we put into the universe endures across space and time, while matter is relegated to the lifespan of Earth.

  3. *mops tears* that’s the blessing of intelligent children – they fox you on the big questions and then somehow they figure it all out for you.

  4. Ps Just noticed my blog is listed over there >>>>! Thanks for linking back! I am not worthy (but I m grateful!) 🙂

  5. Love this, thanks for sharing!

  6. Big Brother is a soulful and loving child. How wonderful he can talk with you about these things.

  7. You know, Noah knows how I feel about religion and afterlife and he says for now he chooses to believe in God and heaven and I told him he has every right to and I support that. But now I’ve got this weird stuff going on (to be filled in later) and I just today thought, if I were terminally ill I think I would tell Noah I believed just to put him at peace. Not when he’s older, but now while he’s struggling with who he is and where he fits. I may be wrong, but I think that’s what I would do. And although I would prefer to be cremated, I told Noah it’s his choice on what to do with my body. I’ll be dead.

  8. This is very sweet! My kids have asked about death- normally after they see a dead insect or animal- or hear about the passing of a family member and it is not an easy talk to get through- They’ve asked if I’m going to die- and the best I could muster at that moment was to say that I was going to do my best to stick around as long as possible, but that’s why it is important for people to always let those they love know that they love them every time they get a chance. It was a little wordy- but, it was unexpected. Your son is very wise! Sounds like he’s been here before. 🙂

    • That’s a great answer on the spur of the moment. And don’t they always ask those questions out of the blue? 🙂 I wasn’t a big believer in reincarnation a few years back — not that I’d ever really put any real thought into it, mind you. But then my first baby was put into my arms and I looked into Big Brothers eyes — they were so dark blue they looked black, like bottomless wells of wisdom and mystery. He stared into my eyes and I lost myself in his and I thought, “You. You have been here before. Thank you for choosing me.”

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