Narrative Play and Death
Some of you might remember that I drive a school bus. No one is as surprised as I am at how much I love driving a bus. If I could handle a lock down in a federal prison for women while visiting the general population, I could handle driving a school bus filled with wildly creative children. The truth is I more than just handle the bus, I truly love the adventure every day. From time to time I get to l listen to the narrative play of the younger passengers. Last year, I heard, “And then Jesus comes down and says, ‘You have lied for the last time.’ ” This particular fragment of narrative play might go down as my all-time favourite. Recently, I heard one of my little ones say, “They are all dead and then the principal comes out and says…” I never got to hear what the principal said, but it got me thinking about narrative play when we were kids. Perhaps I have always been a bit creepy, but we played funeral with the neighborhood kids. We’d sing songs like, “Mary is dead now, and no one knows why”. My grandparents found it a bit disturbing, but we had fun. I wonder how many countless times we ended the story with “and he died” because we did not know how to end a story. It seemed a simple and effective way to move on to the next narrative we wanted to explore. As children, my sister and I had experience with death. My grandmother died when I was seven years old. The fact was we did not understand what it meant to die. We did not understand the tragic nature of death and its finality in this world. We played about death, I believe as a way of dealing with death – trying to figure it out. Narrative play dealing with the idea of death helped us understand what death was about. Sure, it might have disturbed the adults who understood all too well what death meant, but I am ever grateful that my sister and I were given the opportunity to explore death as kids and in a kid way.
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