I am the father of a, just, four year old little girl. Several months ago she started to have what appeared to be night terrors. (I also had night terrors as a child) At that time I did not share my beliefs with my wife, but I was fairly certain that the terror was not just simple night terrors, it was the profound "black hole", as I have referred to it since I was a child. My daughter, like myself when I was 8 or 9 years old, is having extreem anxiety as a result of her fear of death. She expresses this very clearly now, as in, "I don't want to die", and "I am afraid of dying". There has not been, at least to my knowledge, any experience she has had that would have caused this; though I have been reading that there may be some leftover memories of her birth, and the fact the the ambilical cord was wrapped around her neck, (I am not so sure I believe this notion). That being said, she is and has always been a very healthy and happy kid.
Besides the fact that I understand how frightning her experience is, having suffered for many years from this fear, seeing the absolute terror in her eyes is devistating for me. Many years ago I was able to get this fear under control; though to be honest, I am not that sure how I did it. I will admit that from time to time, it rears its ugly head, though when that happens I do not suffer the way I did in years past, and I am able to shake it off in a few minutes.
Sadly, I saw the same fear in my mother most of her life,maybe this is why she did not want to help me with my fears; and at the end of her life, I did what I could to help ease her anxiety as her life was ending.
As you can understand from what I have written, this is something that runs in my family; going back even further, my mother's mother also had a profound fear of dying.
My only concern now however, and as I am sure you can imagine, is the well being of my daughter. I talk to her, and hold her. I explain that there is something very special waiting for us after this life and that when she dies someday many years from now, and that I will be there waiting for her when she wakes up in our next life. At four this must be very difficult to comprehend.
On a side note, I have a very strong belief that my mother's soul is now in my daughter. No I have never shared this with her, nor would I until she is much older, though she speaks often of when I was a child and she was my mother. She also speaks about my mom in the first person from time to time. This has become less so as she has gotten older, though both my wife and I have been shocked by my daughter's ability to identify articles and photos related to my mother without any coaching from us.
Interestingly, these revelations of my daughter, has helped me to believe in more of the metaphysical, and that maybe our lives have meaning beyond this world.
Sorry, I veered off there for a moment.
So what I am asking is, is there a better way to handle this situation over another? Are there things my wife and I can do to ease her pain in those bad moments? If you are a parent and your child has had these issues, what worked and what didn't? Is there a book or particular therapy? The fact that she is only 4 is very disconcerting to me; my fear hit at 8 or 9, and it hit like a bus, but 4?
My parents were unable to deal with me and my issues with death; and though I understand that there was no bad intent on their behalf, I am and will be exactly the opposite for my daughter, and engage her on any and every front that might help her with this. As I wrote, she is a happy and healthy kid in every respect, I just want to help keep this demon at bay long enough for her to gain enough of her own faculties, in order to manage her fears like the rest of us. I also have to believe that there may be a way, if my wife and I handle this correctly, that this will be something that she grows out of in a healthy manner; I hope I am not kidding myself.
As I write this I am also trying to explain my history and the concept of existentialistic angst (Dread) to my wife; as she is someone that has never experienced this. I wonder if it is possible for someone that has never fealt this to actually understand???
Anyway, your comments, suggetions and/or anything else of value is greatly appreciated.