Love is strong as death. — Hebrew scripture, Song of Solomon, 8:6
I sometimes feel wrapped, cocooned in love. I often feel it most strongly right before I go to sleep. Then I think of my parents who died years ago and remember what the priest told me when I grieved for my father. "People die," he told me. "They rot and turn to dust. But love is forever." — Agnes Collard, late 20th-century American
This session focuses on the sixth Unitarian Universalist Source—in children's language, "the harmony of nature and the sacred circle of life." Drawing on the wisdom of earth-centered traditions, the session connects love with the age-old human question "What happens when we die?" Participants hear some ways people have answered this question and learn that Unitarian Universalists believe we cannot really know the answer. Participants learn that when we remember people we love, they live on in our hearts and minds, and that the love we give when we are alive lives long after our death.
Participants have an opportunity to name their experiences with sorrow and death. They gather together in community, with a ritual for helping us through times of grief that includes creating flowers of memory and receiving a stone of remembrance and love.
NOTE: This session requires at least two adult leaders, so one can be available to offer support to children who find the topic difficult. Removing oneself from the conversation should be an option for any participant who needs to. Leaders should be ready to convey honesty, compassion, and comfort with the topic of death and any feelings participants may express, including fear, anger, guilt, or sadness.
Find out about significant losses these participants have experienced. Many children this age have experienced the death of a pet or grandparent, but some may have lost a parent, sibling, or peer or have a connection to death through war or natural disaster. Talk with your minister or religious educator to find out about recent deaths in the congregation or in the children's lives. Leader Resource 2, Tips for Talking with Children about Death and additional resources listed in Find Out More can support you to handle this topic.
This session will:
- Introduce the sixth Unitarian Universalist Source, "Spiritual teachings of earth centered traditions which celebrate the sacred circle of life and instruct us to live in harmony with the rhythms of nature"
- Create a safe place for children to think and talk about grief and death
- Introduce Unitarian Universalist rituals, customs, and teachings related to death and sorrow
- Deepen children's understanding of the cycle of life
- Emphasize that love lives beyond death.
- Learn the sixth Unitarian Universalist Source—in children's language, "The harmony of nature and the sacred circle of life"
- Understand death's role in the cycle of human life, through a Malagasy story
- Explore ways people stay with us after they die through our memories and their loving acts
- Experience Unitarian Universalist ways to mark the loss of a loved one and honor them after death, through a craft activity and a ritual of love and remembrance.