With the series finale of The Good Place upon us — and, you know, the events of the real world — everyone’s feeling pretty morbid this week. It seems like we could all take a tip or two from Kristen Bell and Dax Shepard’s daughters on how to deal with grief and loss, at least if we’re judging by the story Bell told about one of them on Late Night With Seth Meyers on Wednesday night.
“Our daughter, when she was 5, said, ‘Am I gonna die?’ ” Bell told Meyers, not specifying whether this was Lincoln or Delta asking. “The air got sucked out of the room, and we were like, ‘This is it. What do we do?’ There are so many roads. Like, do we make up a story? Do we say we don’t know? Do we say we know and then actually not know?’ “
Bell and Shepard are notorious for their honesty policy with their children, and they weren’t about to break that rule for this difficult question. “We just said, ‘Yes, you’re gonna die.’ And she went, ‘Ugh.’ And then we said, ‘And we really don’t know what happens when you die. You may just become flowers.’ And she went, ‘Okay.’ “
This closely resembles the advice psychologist Amanda Fialk just gave SheKnows when discussing how to answer kids’ questions following the death of Kobe Bryant. Younger kids will usually leave it at that, while older kids might be open to exploring the philosophical and spiritual ideas that follow that “we don’t know.”
For now, the Bell-Shepard girls, who are 5 and 6, are content to concentrate on the practical, physical details of death.
“Their grandfather was dying and … my little girl was in the back and said, ‘So when Papa dies … are we gonna come to Oregon with you?’ And I was like, ‘Yeah, you’ll come.’ And she was like, ‘Okay. Do I need to bring my shovel? Because I have a garden set.’ And I said, ‘Why would you pack your shovel, honey?’ She goes, ‘Well, I want to help bury him. Where do we do it? The side of the house?’ “
We agree with Bell’s assessment that this is indeed a reassuringly practical, “oddly beautiful” take on the circle of life.
“Some people could say she’s a sociopath,” she added. “I’m not going down that route.”