Although I have seven children, all of whom should have had to face the same inescapable facts of existence, I cannot remember how I helped each child how to cope.
Did I help them all in the same way?
What worked best? I can't remember.
For example, each child - except Colm - has had to face the inevitability of death.
Somehow, Colm's autism has spared him the anxiety normally associated with the realisation of one's mortality.
I do remember Joseph being extremely worried that I was going to die.
I told him that he would be grown up before I died and he wouldn't need me then.
That didn't work.
I told him that I wouldn't die until I was 100 years old.
I was trying to put off the day he was fearing so far into the future that it didn't matter right now.
That helped him, but didn't completely remove his fears.
Then I told him that after I died, I would become a star and would always look down on him from the sky.
He liked this.
I got quite a lot of questions about stars, but in general, he liked that idea.
Now it's Orla's turn.
She was crying sorely, in my arms, at bedtime.
What would happen if I died and mummy died?
Who would look after her?
Who would love her?
Joseph, who was nearby, told her "Don't worry, daddy will be a star. You'll be able to see him in the sky."
Joseph was being kind, trying to help.
He brought no comfort whatsoever.
I told her that I wasn't going to die before she was a grown up woman.
That is working.
For now, anyway.
She slept soundly.
All help gratefully received.