Human Memory at Work

velcro-ball.jpg A target and three velcro balls. A children’s game that somehow stuck. Sometimes I still play, usually because I can’t sit still for too long ;)

That’s exactly what I was doing today, when I was suddenly hit by a feeling, the same distinct feeling I felt when I listened to the audio version of Vanishing, by Bruce Brooks. I thought this strange, because the book was a short one and it never crossed my mind again after I finished it. Then I remembered that I was playing the same game while listening to the book. The sudden memory must be a result of an association my brain has made (without asking for my permission!) between the book and the action of playing the game.

Take any life you can. Doesn’t matter. Because…just between us, tell you: Dying sucks.

Books for children; books about death. Open question: how early does it make sense to teach youngsters about death?

PS. Here’s an article you may find interesting.

5 Responses to Human Memory at Work

  1. jayskywalker says:

    That presents a very interesting question. How soon IS it to tell youngsters about death? Personally, death was always presented to me as a “return to home” idea. When my grandfather died after a long sickness, my father explained to me that God had “healed” him by removing his pain. I still felt pain over his death and understood he was gone, but it was a comfort to know he no longer suffered. Death shouldn’t be completely avoided or taboo, but it shouldn’t be a lingering and scary element of such a young person’s life either.

    Enjoyed your blog!

  2. Constantin says:

    Luckily I have no direct experience of someone close to me dying.
    I think a big mistake adults can make is to tell children that the person is “gone” in a way that doesn’t make it clear that a return is impossible. They feel like they’re protecting their children when in fact they set them up for greater pain and disappointment.

  3. Alex Railean says:

    That’s an interesting question. I think it’s a question that does not require a special answer – explain death to them when it actually happens, or when they ask you themselves. The point is not to rush it.

    Before they ask, they probably come up with their own explanations, so they have some basic points in their mind. Afterwards you just fill in the empty space and connect those dots. This should work with kids who are already pretty smart; but I’m pretty sure this is not going to work if the child is too young and has no analytical skills.

    When was the first time you asked about god? You must’ve heard about this concept from an _external source_ (because people are not born with this idea). I remember that I asked mom “if god can see through stones”; the answer was “yes” (this reminds me of Prolog jokes, ex: {- will you have apples or oranges?}, {- yes}). Unfortunately I don’t remember why I asked about it (perhaps I was intrigued by the church that was near our house?).

    I don’t have a clear memory about my introduction to death. One grandparent died before I was born, another one died shortly after my birth, so I grew up with a “default set” of 2 grandfathers, and there was no need to wonder about missing grandmothers, because they weren’t there in the first place.

    Anyway, to answer your exact question: “how early does it make sense to teach youngsters about death?”
    Whenever they ask themselves; this also covers cases in which someone dies (ex: a parent) and they are forced to deal with it (sooner or later they will notice that “mommy|daddy is not coming anymore”, so they will ask).

    Note: IANAP (not a parent). Ah, what an intriguing question, I will discuss this with my friends.

    P.S. Childhood memory: I went to a summer camp in Romania once, there was a boy who had velcro gloves (and velcro balls :-)) and he always played this game with his sister. I always wanted to play too, but I was too afraid to ask.

    Final note: maybe you already knew; velcro was developed for use in space (they needed an attaching mechanism that didn’t use fluids, and one that didn’t require air to “enable the glue effect”.

  4. Constantin says:

    Funny, I don’t remember the first time I asked about god.

  5. Camaro says:

    Jeez ? ?!

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