Thursday, August 28, 2008

Children Experiencing Death

Yesterday, I was reminded about explaining death to children.
Through the local triplets group, one of my triplet mom friend
sent an email out asking for help as her father has just passed
away and she is not sure how to explain death to her children.
I replied to her email and I was surprised at how much I had to
say. I have wanted to post about our experience this summer with
GG Del passing but I could never find the right words and the
wound in still to fresh. However, after I wrote this email, I
decided I wanted to post it to this blog so my kids can have
this someday. I will warn you that this is long but something
that I have wanted to post about for awhile.

As you know, my Grandmother passed away this summer very quickly
from Liver/Bone Cancer. My kids were very close to her as was myself.
My husband and I were very concerned about how to handle this
situation with our children. Jon did a lot of research on how to
handle death with young children and what we learned was that it
is important to be very honest with the kids. When it was time to tell
the kids what happened to GG Del, I could not do the talking,
Jon did all the talking but I was present and there for hugs if needed.
A lot about death has to do with what your religious beliefs are but
for us we talked about going to heaven. The kids seemed to grasp this
well and as someone pointed out to me later, Kids are closer to death
than adults because they accept that you can just "go right on up to
heaven" where as adults we question it more. We told them that
GG Del wasin heaven now but that she would always live in our hearts.

Jon and I had a plan with how we were going to handle the kids with
the wake and the funeral. However, as kids always do they switched
things up on us. We were not even going to take them to the wake with
us but then my Dad has requested that they be there. There was two
separate rooms at the funeral home so our intentions were to not allow
the kids to go into the room with the body. Jon’s parents were there
for support as well as my entire family so we felt comfortable that there
would be enough people around to help us out.

However, they all wanted to view the body so after much thought we
took the kids down to the body. I am amazed at how well it went
and how it did not seem to bother them at all. E was a little spooked
but she just left the room. Jon just explained that when someone dies,
there body stays here on earth but their souls go to heaven. They were
okay with this and asked to get closer to the body. It almost brought
more peace to my heart that day knowing that they were “okay” with
all of it.

The funeral was much harder. The kids were so well behaved but they
certainly felt the sadness and cried right along with all of us. As
we were leaving the church after the funeral, K grabbed his heart and
said "Daddy, I can feel GG Del in my heart right now".

As I have said, death is a hard topic for kids but I do believe that
giving them the facts and your beliefs (go to heaven or another place)
and just being honest about the situation is so important. I think
as parents we try so hard to protect our children from sadness and pain
but when you are dealing with death there is no way around it. I know
that we should all celebrate that whoever has passed on has gone to a
better place but sometimes it is hard to get past the "never see
that person again". I know that we are all still grieving around
our house as just this morning I was talking to a friend of mine who
went to a funeral yesterday and it surfaced all of those memories and
feelings like it had just happened yesterday. I know that my kids
experiencing death at such a young age was a good life lesson but it
is hard. I think the hardest thing I have dealt with yet with my kids.

One more thing I want to share with you, GG Del (Grandma) is still
talked about everyday in our house. Please be prepared after the
funeral is over and you get back to your "everyday" life that Grandpa
will be talked about. Sometimes when my kids bring her up it hurts or
reminds me of my grief but I do know that this is healthy for all of us.
Also, we read that death can temporally change children's personalities
and habits. They might start to wet pants/bed, have mood swings, act up,
ect.. We did not see any of these changes with our kids but we were
warned it could happen. K often asks me when I will go to heaven. He does
have some fear that I will go away like GG Del but I just tell him that
hopefully we all won’t go to heaven until we are older like GG Del.
It is really important that I watch what I say too. Just after a jog
a few days ago I was being sarcastic and I said “WOW, I am tired and
I feel like I am going to die” immediately K started to ask questions
about death and asked me if I would die when I was really OLD. It was
a good lesson to be careful about what I say right now.

This is still very hard for me and I can only imagine how hard the
holidays will be for all of us this year as this is the times that
we usually spent with GG Del. I miss her as I am sure all of my family
does and will for a very long time. I am so grateful that I was able to
have the relationship I had with her and I am also so very grateful that
my kids got to know her too.

Just wanted to share this. It has been on my mind. I guess you
never know when something you post will help someone else. God Bless.

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