I mentioned a week or so ago that I had inadvertently caused Matthew a little emotional distress by bringing up that President Monson would pass away at some point and that I wanted him to pay attention so that he would remember him. Then on Friday, we were watching The Return of the Jedi with Matthew for family movie night, and at the end after Darth Vader turned good and then almost immediately died, he began to cry again (real tears), saying, "But I don't want the good Darth Vader to die!" Second time in a week or so that I had seen him sad about the same thing essentially, albeit concerning two very different people. :) So obviously the gravity of death has been weighing on him more than you'd expect for a boy who is not-quite-five - as evidenced by the fact that the next day during Tangled at the dollar movie theater, he asked if Karin was going to die some day and was sad again, saying that he would miss her.
I thought that Family Home Evening tonight would be a good chance to explain what we believe about how death fits within the Plan of Salvation and how this life is not the end or the beginning of us. We did a little activity while we created a "map" of how to return to our Heavenly Father. It was going pretty well until we got to the death part again, and again he started to cry at the idea of us dying and not being able to see each other. He felt better, I think, after we explained the resurrection, and assured him that people who die can see each other again (his biggest concern). Then, he surprised me again when we talked about the judgment and degrees of glory, and he started to cry again a bit, saying that he couldn't be with us because he did bad things sometimes. We reminded him about repentance & what it meant & why it was possible, and I think finally the whole thing started to fit together for him.
It was sort of a difficult discussion but also just one of those moments when you realize how much you love your kids and how much having an eternal family means to us (something we also discussed). I started out trying to make this a teaching moment for him, and I think it was, but more than that it was a learning moment for us, I think, because I think on an emotional level at least he feels the need for a Savior and the Atonement every bit as acutely as I do, if not more. It was also a good little family bonding moment for us and a chance for us to assure him that he is a great kid and that if we all help each other, we can all be together forever.
As a side note, he was also somewhat upset when we explained that someday he would have his own family and that we would be grandparents - again reminded him that we would get older and die someday. We will have to be more careful about how we say things for a while I think. :) He also wanted to talk a bit about the bad guys who go to the lowest kingdom of glory - he finally decided that we could be nice to them but should probably avoid them so they don't do anything to us. I love my son. :)