I decided to try a little experiment about what runs through the brains of kids. I chose a subject that I know lots about (in a round about way) and I would think my kids would know more than the average child since they know what I do for a living. I decided to interview Roan and two of his friends. All the boys are 11 years old. Here's what these particular kids thought about death.
Have you ever known anyone who died?
Mitchell: Yes...my dad, grandma and great-grandma.
Julian: Uhm, when I was 2 or 3, I only met my great-grandma and my great-grandpa for like a little bit and then they died and I only knew my cat since I was two and then my cat died. My grandma went outside and found it dead in the bushes.
Mitchell: Oh ya, my cat died too.
Roan: Yah...my grandpa and my great-grandpa, but I don't really remember him. So just my grandpa and my cat Nika who died this year. I saw her in her coffin.
How would you like to die?
Mitchell: Uh, I don't want to die!
Julian: I would rather just die in the normal, peaceful way like everybody does.
Me: So you think everyone dies normally and peacefully?
Julian: No, I guess I'd like to die of old age or a quick non-painful death.
Me: What's your idea of a quick non-painful death?
Roan: Getting shot with a bullet.
Mitchell: Nope, being run over by a transport truck. You would die instantly, it would only hurt for a split second.
Roan: I would want to probably die from being old and slowly, so I can be with my family.
Are you afraid to die? Why?
Mitchell: Yes! I don't want to die cause it's an awesome world. I'm afraid to die because I'm only 11! I'm scared of actually dying itself. You either go to hell or heaven. You don't want to know where you're going to end up ahead of time cause you might want to do things differently or over again.
Roan: Yes and no. Yes because I like to live but it's meant to be to die, so no. But like uhm....no. I don't know how to explain it. Like it's going to happen either way. So I'm scared and I'm not. It's scary cause you life has ended.
Julian: Same as Roan, yes and no. I wouldn't want to die yet. No,because when you die your spirit is still living so you'll never be completely dead.
What would you miss most if you died?
Mitchell: Family. Like if you have kids you'll miss them.
Roan: Family and friends.
Mitchell: I'd miss everything. Uhm, my mom, my family, and if I died in a couple of months, I'd miss my hamster because I'm getting a hamster soon.
Julian: I'd really miss watermelon, it's my favourite. I'd also miss my family and friends. For instance, I play with my friends every single day but if I died I wouldn't be able to play with them. And my family, I have always liked my family so I'd miss them too.
Would you rather be all curled up with arthritis and in pain, or die?
Mitchell: I'd pick arthritis and in pain. I want to live as long as I can.
Julian: Same here. But if I was like 100 or even 92 then I'd probably rather die.
Mitchell: If you were 92 you'd probably just die the next year anyway.
Let’s say you die when you’re 200 years old, how do you want to go?
Mitchell: With my children's children's children around me. My kids would be dead, their kids would be 90 and then the others would be like 30 or 50. The the other ones would be like 2.
Julian: I would want to die with all my family or some of my family that I have left with me.
Roan: With my family or tied to a rocket ship and blasted into outer space. But still probably die quietly.
What do you think happens after death?
Mitchell: Your spirit roams the Earth and you become a new person like a baby. And you either go to Heaven or Hell. Your body goes in a vase too.
Roan: Well sometimes it says "Rest In Peace" so that could mean you are resting. In peace. But if you are roaming you are not really resting, so I'd like to choose whatever I want, either to rest or to roam. I'd probably roam around the world visiting all the places I'd like to see.
Julian: I think your spirit goes around the Earth but at the same time I could be in Heaven or Hell, I don't know where I'll go. I might also become a new baby in this world or in another galaxy.
Mitchell: Your spirit would be its own person so you couldn't control it. It could go to Heaven or Hell or back to the Earth. Or you could come back as an animal.
What are your thoughts on heaven? What about hell?Mitchell: Heaven is a nice peaceful place, above the clouds and everything is fine with you. There are really nice people there.
Julian: It's like a nice peaceful place in the clouds but it's not even in this world, but someplace beyond. Like La la land.
Roan: I picture clouds everywhere.
Julian: There are things you always wanted to do in life...well in Heaven you'd be able to do it and have the things you've always wanted.
Roan: I picture Hell as under the ground, the centre of the Earth with flames. It's a terrible place and not peaceful at all.
Mitchell: Maybe there are some nice people there but they did something bad in their life but they didn't mean to. Like they did something really bad but they didn't do it alone. And they are stuck in Hell.
Julian: It's not so peaceful, you can be tortured there. There could be some nice and some not so nice people. I also think there is fire and lava all around you. It would be like the Never World in Minecraft.
Roan: I think it would be terrible and scary there.
What do you think your life will be like as a dead person?
Mitchell: It would be pretty plain because you already lived and there is nothing to do after you die except roam free.
Julian: Plain but you'll have all sorts of new places to go to. If you are a spirit you can roam around.
Roan: I think I would probably visit everywhere I wanted to go. There would be no pain.
Julian: I'd like to fly, that would be cool.
Roan: You could see anyone you wanted to when you wanted to. And you could go through walls.
Mitchell: Not necessarily. If you were wearing clothes the clothes wouldn't go through the wall.
Julian: You could protect and help out the people you wanted to. Like a guardian angel.
Me: Sounds like being dead could be pretty cool.
All of them: Yeah....But we don't want to be dead.
Julian: I would like a new life that you've never tried before. No traffic or cars. And in our new life, we'd know nothing about our old life. Our memories would be erased.
If you could come back after dying as anything, what would you pick?
Julian: I'd come back into this life to do it again.
Roan: Me too, but I'd be a girl the next time.
Julian: Ya I'd be a girl too, that's a good one.
Mitchell: I'd like to be 4 things: A girl, a hummingbird (because that's my favourite bird), a cheetah (because they run fast and are hard to kill) and a chimpanzee (because they are funny and strong).
Julian: I'd come back as a tiger. That would be cool or some kind of bird so I could feel what it's like to fly.
Roan: BIRD! I'd come back as a lion or a girl. A hot girl.
What do you want your family to do with your body after you die?
Roan: I'd want you to keep me in your house.
Me: What like a stuffed animal in a corner or cremated?
Mitchell: I want to be in a room where there is a vase and my ashes are in there and there are pictures of me on the wall and candles everywhere. Or bury me underneath the house... but what if they moved? Then they'd have to dig it up and that would be hard.
Julian: Ya, I'd say bury me in the backyard, but I would worry they'd move. So keep the ashes in the house where they can remember me throughout their lives.
Me: So all three of you would choose cremation?
Roan: I don't want to be buried because I don't want to come back as a zombie. Also, if my parents or kids came over and spilled my ashes I'd make a loud creepy noise and they would be scared and I would shake the pictures around the house and make the ashes go right back in the thing they were in and they'd be freaked out!
Do you believe in spirits and ghosts?
Julian: Yes, 100%.
Roan: Yes, for sure.
Mitchell: I have to choose my words carefully because I'm very gullible. But, I've heard that spirits will haunt you if you don't believe in them. I kind of do, but not like you think. I don't think they're everywhere, but I do know for sure that they're roaming the cemeteries. Spirits and ghosts are the same thing.
Have you ever seen a ghost?
Julian: No, no one can really see ghosts.
Roan: I think I have.
Julian: I might have, but I'm not sure. If I did, I probably don't remember.
Mitchell: One time I took a picture and there was light coming into it and the room was dark and no one else was there but there was a blur on the camera and light .
Roan: I saw something at school when I was playing a game with friends. I saw something three times, but when I talk about it it sounds fake. When I looked up again, it was gone but it felt like it was watching me.
How do you think ghosts contact us?
Roan: They could send letter by writing words on walls. Or maybe they talk to us or whisper to us. But mainly they come to you in your dreams.
Mitchell: Ya, in your dreams. I wouldn't use a Ouija board, they've been taken over by mean spirits.
And ghosts can't talk to us through other people.
Julian: I think people have the power to talk to ghosts, but they don't know how to use it.
Roan: So kind of like the 3rd eye? The eye that sees energy?
Julian: Ya, exactly.
Roan: I've seen energy.
Do you think dying hurts?
Mitchell: Probably because your heart stops pumping and you run out of air and when you hold your breath for too long it hurts. But when you heart stops all your blood stops flowing and you get really cold and can't breathe, so that probably doesn't feel good.
Julian: It can be painful in certain ways or peaceful. Like lets say you are dying of cancer and you are in pain for a month and then you finally die...
Mitchell: Depends on what kind of cancer you have. There are 3 kinds.
Roan: No way, there are tons of different cancers.
Mitchell: Ya, I know but there is one where you are going to die for sure, one where it can harm you but you won't die, you'll just be in a lot of pain, and one where you can have surgery and get better.
Julian: So, if you had cancer it would be very painful but after you die it would feel gentle and peaceful.
Roan: It would be painful in a way. Emotionally I think it hurts. Your heart stops and it's broken because you'll never get to see your family again, unless you come back as a ghost to see them. But even still...