As news spread that Osama bin Laden was dead, a million things raced through my mind. The first was relief. Don’t get me wrong. I agree with Danielle when she wrote that this situation is far more complex than “we won, you lost,” and that even the death of a ruthless terrorist isn’t something which should be crassly celebrated like a Super Bowl championship. Still, I hoped and prayed this day would come. So to that end, I was relieved that it finally did.
Quickly, however, my mind turned to the inevitable retaliation which is bound to occur. Like Sunny, I wonder if bin Laden’s death will make the world safer for our children. I can see how it may. But I can also see how it may not.
But eventually, my mind turned to my kids, especially my 9-year-old. How would I explain all of this to her? And, perhaps more importantly, would she be subjected to gruesome photos provided to the media as a means of confirming bin Laden’s death?
To me, the matter of explaining all of this to my daughter is less daunting. She was, quite literally, one month old when 9-11 went down. So, in a way, this whole thing is beneficial in that it will give my wife and me a good chance to have a in-depth conversation with her about it. I plan on telling her about my memories from that fateful day. I’ll also tell her the stories I’ve heard from my friends who lived in the city at the time. And, of course, I’ll tell her about the personal friend I lost, all as I emphasize that bin Laden was the ultimate reason for them all.
I believe in good. And I also believe in evil. And while few things are ever black and white, I believe that at least this much is: Osama bin Laden was evil. That’s why our current president, as well as the one before him, ordered him to be killed. And I’m extremely comfortable expressing all of those thoughts to her. So I’m not scared of explaining bin Laden’s death at all.
What I do fear are the images which may be released to prove that bin Laden is dead. As the Obama administration mulls over whether or not to do just that, I mull over how such images might affect my daughter.
I remember all of the footage that went around the internet when Saddam Hussein was executed. But that was quite a few years ago and my daughter was much younger, so I wasn’t concerned about her seeing it. But this time, I know that whatever might be released is something which she would definitely see. Would these images cause her harm?
My ultimate answer is no—they would not. For I’m confident that Obama’s administration would handle such a situation with delicacy.
But also, should images of bin Laden’s body be released, my daughter would see first hand that sometimes, if not most of the time, bad guys get what they deserve.
No. The only way these images might harm her would be if my wife and I weren’t there to help explain them to her. The way I see it, moments such as these are the exact ones when we should be talking to our kids.
Kids and Grief: How to Explain Death to Your Children