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Saying Goodbye: What Do We Teach Kids about Death?

My grandfather is dying. He is 92, and just before Christmas he came down with pneumonia. His health and awareness have been in steady decline since then, and his doctors have begun preparing us for the end. Uncle Tommy and Aunt Kimmie, who moved in with him a few years ago, have been overseeing his care. They are now assisted by one day nurse, my Aunt Katie, and my dad, who take shifts to make sure Tommy and Kimmie can rest, and to guarantee that Grandpa can stay in his home. I called my dad two nights ago to ask if I could join him on his shift for Sunday morning. He agreed, warning me that in the last few days, Grandpa had stopped conversing. I asked if he minded if I brought the girls.
Coping with death was an on-farm necessity. But much of our family still preferred to keep it a safe distance from life.
“I don’t know. Maybe we can talk about it later.” With that, the conversation ended. That was his code for telling me that I had to make the decision. I thought back over my own experiences with death as a child. My brother and I cared for pets who were making their passages; attempted to save baby birds who’d fallen out of their nests; carried hypothermic lambs into the kitchen on cold winter nights, and worked to resuscitate them until they died in our arms; removed dead chickens from the coop. Coping with death was an on-farm necessity. But much of our family still preferred to keep it a safe distance from life. Continue reading this article at Yes! Magazine.
rawmilkrevolution Shannon Hayes is the author of Radical Homemakers.


What Bullies Can Teach Our Kids—And Us

Saoirse and Ula have a favorite story they are forever asking me to retell. It is about my first encounter with bullies in my kindergarten year. It goes like this: At the end of each day, my older brother and his best friend would pick me up from my classroom, and together we’d walk to […] Read More..

Radical Homemaking … With Houseguests?

I wouldn’t say I’m a slob. The toilets get scrubbed, I’m a champion when it comes to de-cluttering, and the sheets get changed. But I do possess a certain, ummm … blindness to grime. Since most cobwebs are above my sightline, I don’t notice them. The windows were last washed in 2008. Dusting really only […] Read More..

The Downsides of Upselling: 4 Tips from the Farm

A few weeks ago Bob and I had the delight of sharing the day at our farmers market with a young man who is preparing to go into grassfed farming. He worked closely with my mom and dad to understand the production end of the farm, then chose to spend a day with Bob and […] Read More..

What We Learned From Swimming With Leeches

We don’t go away much in the summer. Highways and traffic grate at our nerves, we fixate too much on what could be getting done on the farm, we get grouchy filling up at the pump. That is not to say our summers are without bliss. But once things are growing in the soil and […] Read More..

The Audacity of Acting Out: What Our Kids Can Teach Us

Originally published by Yes! magazine. Saoirse and Ula are three years apart. Saoirse, 8, is unusually tall, slender, well-spoken, and comes across to grown-ups as particularly well-behaved and extraordinarily poised. Ula isn’t any of those things. At 5, she’s about a foot shorter than her sister, demonstrates an ability to move exceptionally heavy objects for […] Read More..