Where Are The Right Words?

I’ll bundle my cherubs off to kindy and school today, and spend the day chatting with other little cherubs, some who are scared, some who are sad, some who are angry. These innocent, open minds, ready to take on the world. They feel all the feels, and sometimes not being in a good place, they do things that perhaps in hindsight might not have been the best idea. They might hurt someone, they might say something they shouldn’t have, they might act out. But when sitting and chatting, they can often see where they went wrong, we work together to help them feel better about themselves and to move on.  When I see these children, I see little dudes and dudettes who have the world at their feet, their eyes bright and wide, excited for what the future holds. I don’t hold their actions against them permanently, I see that they are learning and changing.

Some 20-25 years ago, those bright eyes belonged to Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran. While hard to fathom for some now, they were once young children, with dreams of a big future ahead of them. We don’t know the reasons how or why they fell into the nasty trade that they did, but I can guarantee you that this current state wasn’t in either of their life plans.  As they sit in isolation, taking in their last breaths, running through their final moments. Hands wringing, waiting, wondering, do they think back to those bright eyed times? Maybe they wanted to be firefighters? Or race car drivers? I try to put myself in their position and I can’t. I can’t fathom it. The pure psychological trauma of waiting to die. After being rehabilitated. After a decade of growth and change.

death quote

I know we all have our opinions on them.  We all think we know the why’s and the how’s. Some feel they deserve what’s coming. Others, myself included, struggle to understand how this can happen in such a barbaric manner, after they’ve been rehabilitated. Killing them won’t stop the drug trade. It doesn’t save lives. Because guess what? Those people taking drugs? They choose to do so. The smugglers and dealers aren’t shoving it into them. And if they don’t get it from one dealer, they’ll quickly find another. It’s insidious, and I’ve had first-hand, personal experience watching family go through addiction, and have seen how it’s torn people apart. So I guess I could be angry about people trying to smuggle drugs. But I know they’re not the answer. They’re not the end of the food chain.

How do we explain this to our kids? What can we say to them about this situation? Of course we don’t want to expose our children to such graphic ideas such as the death penalty, and I think we parents try our darndest to shield children from having to grapple with the concept of death for as long as possible, but this story is saturated throughout the media. We’re all talking about it, at home, at the park, at the shops.  If your child does hear/see anything about this story, and wants to know about death or the death penalty, here are some tips that might be helpful:

  • Ask them what they know about death/death penalty?
  • Be as honest as appropriate with them. I.e. ‘when we die, our bodies no longer work, our heart stops beating. We can no longer see or touch people who have died’.
  • If they are asking about the death penalty, provide some basic facts on what it is, and why some countries have it while others don’t.
  • Try to use the words ‘death’ and ‘dead’ as opposed to ‘gone to sleep’ to avoid confusion.
  • Repetition is ok. Sometimes it takes a few rounds of the same conversation to help them process and understand.
  • If you don’t know the answer to their question at that point, it’s totally fine to say ‘I don’t have the answer to that right now’
  • Normalise feelings of confusion, hurt, or sadness around death. Our children need to know that we all feel like that.
  • If they have had any previous experience with death (i.e. death of a pet, death of a plant etc) try to link it back to that, so they can have something concrete to base the idea on.
  • Reassure them that they are safe, they are loved and looked after. Sometimes kids can worry that everyone will die around them at the drop of a hat. Or that they might die themselves.

death holding hands via healthharmonyweb

While this story might be remote to them, if someone close dies, then they may also churn through the rollercoaster that is grief. The Seven Stages of Grief by Elizabeth Kubler-Ross is a great starting point.

Death is a normal part of life. But tying someone to a stake, and aiming a firing squad at them isn’t. These men were very young, when they committed their crimes. The brain doesn’t stop developing and maturing until we are at least 25. Should we all be condemned for decisions we make in our late teens and early twenties? No one is arguing that they did the wrong thing, and that their crime was heinous. But after a decade, after being rehabilitated, helping fellow inmates get off drugs, teach them art and other expressive skills, to just shoot them dead, seems like a waste. A waste of those bright eyes, who didn’t envisage this future, but were trying to salvage what they could, to make amends for a life that they would never have anticipated when they were young and full of excitement and dreams.  They’re somebody’s children. Somebody’s brother. We shouldn’t forget that it could happen to any of our children. We just don’t know how things will turn out in life sometimes. Here’s hoping our kids will never have to know of this.


How does all of this leave you feeling? Do you feel these men are rehabilitated? Is the death penalty still valid in 2015?



  • Beautifully written, thoughtful and useful post on a difficult topic Sasha. I’m going to share it around x

  • Hugzilla

    This is so well-said and today, I am incredibly relieved that I don’t have to deal with explaining this to my children, because they are still so young.

    • Thanks lovely lady. I am so with you, utterly relieved that my girls are too young to grasp it. And we’ve been switching the TV over if it comes on so the eldest doesn’t catch wind. It’s just too much to fathom, isn’t it? x

  • Oh, Sasha! Thank you. You’ve explained just how I feel about this, only so much more eloquently than I ever could. I am totally sharing this xx

    • Oh sweets, thank YOU for such a lovely comment. It really means a lot. It has been on my mind constantly, and I wasn’t sure how to phrase it, but last night I had to vomit it all out on the page. xx

  • I have such a heavy heart for these two. I completely believe they are rehabilitated. The example the Indonesian Government could be making is one of successful correction instead of a show of force and pompous spectacle they have decided to make.

    • It IS pompous, isn’t it? I couldn’t agree with you more lady. Why now? Why after all the change they’ve enabled in that prison? It’s a really big middle finger honestly, and more of a political issue than ‘following through with the law’. Thanks lovely x

  • I am so saddened by this whole thing. While we are not party to what is actually going in the prison, from all the reports, it certainly seems that these men have paid their time, and have been living a thoughtful and meaningful life, trying to make amends for the crime they committed. I’m quite angered by the whole situation. My heart goes out to their families.

    • I am so with you Di. It makes my heart heavy to hear their journey. And to picture what it must be like sitting in isolation, waiting to die on that island now! Gosh. x

  • Fleur @ Our Urban Box

    Its just so sad. I don’t believe they deserve what is about to happen to them. For god sake, let them live their life out in jail, but don’t execute them. I feel so much heartache for their families.

    • I agree sweets. Execution isn’t going to do a thing! It’s not going to teach others a lesson, it’s not going to change the drug trade. It’s just a horrid, barbaric act. And their families are the ones who will be left to carry the burden for the rest of their lives. So sad. x

  • So saddened by this, it really is unfathomable and unspeakably barbaric. Why rehabilitate if they are going to execute? Not that I know but it does seem that they are rehabilitated, what is execution going to prove now? I can’t even begin to imaging what they and their families are going through. So far I’ve managed to shield my girls from it thankfully but this is great advice.

    • That’s what gets me the most- they’ve let them sit there for 10 years, 10 years! They’ve been rehabilitated, they’ve done so much for change in that prison, to kill them now is just shocking. x

  • I just cant accept that the death penalty is still being used in this day and age. I just cant. Yes they made a mistake.. a bloody huge mistake. But life is life. Imprison them for life, let them continue to do good and help others within the confines of a jail. But barbarically taking an eye for an eye is something that should be left in the years gone. xx

    • I am with you 100% lovely. They were so young, and for people to think that killing them will stop the drugs then they’ve got rocks in their head! These guys were still small fry in the grand scheme of things. And the rehabilitative good they’ve done in such a harsh prison is amazing. It’s just so sad we’re still in this kind of a mentality in 2015. x

  • The United States loves the death penalty, but I have always struggled with it. When I examine the way the death penalty is applied in the US – unevenly applied, disproportionately given to people of color, disproportionately sought when a white person is murdered, shaky investigations, quick trials, those proclaimed guilty eventually found innocent…I just can’t support it. Further it is difficult for me believe that the state should be in the business of deciding who lives and who dies. I don’t care if the crime has been committed. I find it difficult to leave life and death in the hands of the state…which is an extremely unpopular opinion in the American South.

    • It’s so hard, isn’t it? How can we get it right 100% of the time to put faith in the death penalty? There are so many shades of grey. I couldn’t agree with you more.x

  • I just cant even comprehend! Thank goodness Miss 5 has not caught wind of this, I’d be at a complete loss of words. I’ve felt such heartache all week with every news article or report on TV. My heart just sinks.
    My friend Jo summed it up perfectly when she said this the other day after they were transported to the island “You know, I really didn’t think they’d go through with it. I thought that the pressure of the world watching them would stop them. The sight of the armed transport moving them, the thought of the doctor marking their heart position with a pen, the thought of them being asked to choose how they wish to die..standing, sitting, kneeling, the thought of the option to have their head covered, not covered, the thought of them staring out to sea while the guns are pointed at their bodies and mostly the thought of their families feeling that moment with every inch of their being, is making me feel desperately sad. Despite their crimes, an eye for an eye is never the answer and I stand for mercy. ‪#‎IStandForMercy‬”

    • Oh gosh I’m so with you lovely! I’m thanking my lucky stars that my eldest isn’t aware yet, it’s a tough area to delve into. Your friend has put it all so succinctly. I can’t even fathom how the next couple of weeks will play out. x

  • I think it’s incredibly sad. What they did was wrong but no one deserves to die like that. #aussieparentingbloggers

  • Anna @ BombardedMum

    Great post! My almost 10 year old daughter is grappling hard with this situation at the moment. When I put her to bed last night she was telling me she didn’t think it was right these men should die. We have been over the pros and cons a few times and she has drawn her own conclusion that they need to be given a second chance. They can stay in jail but not be killed is her thinking. Situations like this are all the more real when you hear it out of your daughters mouth. As parents, it is our job to provide the truth around the situation and present it in a delicate, yet honest way so our kids have the chance to make their own decisions and grow up to be active citizens.

    • Thank you! Oh gosh that must be so hard, for both you and your daughter. It’s one of those things we hope they don’t take in too much of, but at the same time we can’t shield them entirely either. It sounds like you’re doing an amazing job with helping her process everything. You’re so right, we have to be honest and delicate at the same time. x

  • Good you’re amazing Sasha. This is truly beautiful. I can’t comprehend it all myself so I can only imagine how confusing it must be for the little people. It’s so senseless and pointless and all I can do is think about those boys and what must be going through their minds. Pure terror. It’s one long, stretched-out, horrific nightmare. I can’t wrap my mind around it.

  • This is a fantastic post Sasha. I honestly have mixed feelings about the whole thing…obviously I am very sad they are going to be executed and definitely don’t think that is the correct way to deal with things…but it’s a hard situation (which really makes no sense!). thank you for some great points on how to deal with such a yucky subject x