Grief with Children

As posted this week at amotherworld.com

The tears race down my cheeks uncensored. The shock allows the floodgates to open before I realize my 4 year old is watching me.

I warble out to my husband who is steps away, “He died.” I feel paralyzed in the living room chair.

My husband comes over to me. I am staring at my iPad going through Facebook where the announcement that our friend’s 13 day old newborn had passed the night before. Baby was waiting for a new heart which never came. Being under constant hospital supervision since birth, he never got to go home to where his older siblings were waiting.

My husband holds my hand as we explain to our older daughter why I am sad. Her friend’s youngest brother passed away. I tell her that it is not fair.

“Oh, he went to heaven to see Harley?” she asks. Harley is our cat who passed away when she was fifteen months old. I wrote 2 books about him. The last one was about how he was sick, went to the hospital and passed away. Harley became an angel where he felt better and still watched over us. The books are read frequently in our home.

She looked at his picture on the screen. Never have met, she nods and says okay. I watch her go back to playing her dolls. I try to shelter some feelings from my kids. After dealing with my mom’s illness and subsequent passing, I never had a true childhood. That motivates me to allow them to be innocent and enjoy their rightful time in their young lives. I do believe in being honest with them.

Having my eldest girl appreciate and understand my sadness because of the Harley story validated that I am doing something right as a mom. As my 2 & 4 year old grow up and have their tween dramas, I hope that by allowing myself to show emotion they will be open and free with themselves. Also, to know that I am here for them any time as my mom would have for me had she lived.

I wipe my tears and close the iPad feeling a little less sad by letting myself be open in my feelings. Holding it in does not help. Despite my overwhelming need to go back to bed and stay there all day, I have to take care of my kids. One step and one day at a time is a good place to start.

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