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by Abigail Van Buren

Boy's Concern With Death Gives His Mother Pause

DEAR ABBY: A promise I made to my child is tearing me apart. My 7-year-old son, "Lyle," has been talking a lot about death. A while back, we were in the car and he brought the subject up again. He said how sad he would be in heaven alone, and asked that should anything ever happen to him, if I would go with him. I promised that I would, and it seemed to make him feel much better. We talked about how we would fly down to Earth and touch our loved ones to give them comfort, even though they would never see us.

That promise I made is killing me now, because, God forbid if something bad did happen to Lyle, I could never go with him. I have four other children who need me. I'm afraid if I take back the promise that gave my son so much comfort, it will upset him. Also, I need to know why, at his tender age, Lyle is talking so much about death. Is this normal? Sometimes it scares me. -- TORN MOTHER IN VERMONT

DEAR TORN MOTHER: Do not "take back" the promise. Your son was asking for reassurance that you would never leave him, and you gave it to him. Because you are concerned about this preoccupation with death, gently try to draw him out when he brings it up again. If you are not satisfied with his responses, enlist the aid of a child psychologist.