Mommy, When I Die, Will My Head Come Off?

Once when one of my children was very small, he saw a picture of a skull being unearthed in an archeological dig. As happens so often for that one, the wheels began to turn, and after he had looked at the picture for a long time, he quietly asked a question: “Mommy, when I die, will my head come off?”

I took a very deep breath and then I said this: “Love, I don’t know exactly how or when you will die, but we will all want to be there with you. If Daddy and I are there, we will wrap you up and take good care of your body. If we can’t be there, [your sister] will want to be there, and probably other people, too. Even when you die, we will want to take good care of you because we love you so much.”

He seemed satisfied. I took it to be one of the more important parenting moments thus far.


Holly Taylor Coolman is Assistant Professor of Theology at Providence College. She’s the author of “Adoption and the Goods of Birth” in the Journal of Moral Theology.

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