There’s many things in life I haven’t figured out yet and grieving is definitely on the top of that list. I experienced my first significant loss in 2014, I was 25. I cried, I begged to have my grandpa back, it was rough. It’s wasn’t completely unexpected though, so I think that made it slightly easier to deal with. My kids were smaller then and didn’t seem to understand. Then in 2017 we were suddenly hit with back to back losses a little over a month apart. I was devastated. Our entire family was grieving the loss of two grandmas and it was so rough. My kids even then didn’t quite understand. There was tears and sadness, laughs, and memories shared. They handled it much better than I did.
In January, my mother-in-law Jill was hospitalized. We didn’t tell the kids because we thought it was like any other time and she’d be home in a day or two. This time was different. Two days after her hospitalization, the decision was made to take her off life support. When we came home that evening my husband decided to tell the kids. They were devastated. Our daughter cried til she nearly sent herself into a full asthma attack and our son cried til he was dry-heaving. Our son knew something was up, he just didn’t know what. That night everyone cried and no one slept.
Our son shut down. He didn’t want to talk to us about it and that was okay. We were ready to talk when he was. He submerged himself in video games to cope. Video games are his escape to help him deal with things he’s not quite ready to face and that’s okay too. I was fully prepared to help him cope and heal any way he needed. For him, that was not talking about it, processing everything alone, and coming to terms with it himself. We let it be and told him we were here if he needed anything. We told him she was safe in heaven with her parents and she wasn’t sick anymore. That she would always be watching over him, cheering him on with everything in life, and that she loves him very much.
Our daughter on the other hand, was a different story. She cried so hard everyday for the first 9 days. She didn’t understand why grandma got sick and passed away. She felt like life wasn’t fair that everyone else gets their grandma and she can’t have hers. She cried at home, in the car, at school, all the time. We were exhausted and dealing with so much. We explained to her she can talk to grandma anytime she wanted to. That grandma was always here with her and she was in a better place since she’s not sick anymore. And that she loved her very much. She would talk to grandma about her day and play little games with her. Just when it’d feel like everyone was healing, she’d breakdown again. We spent the majority of February and beginning of March having good days and bad days. The mention of someone’s grandma, a smell, a laugh, a pair of glasses, a haircut, anything could set her off. It was heartbreaking. We took it one day at a time.
Most of March and April were good days. It seemed as though the kids had healed and things were back to normal. We spent Easter at my mom’s (nana’s) house with family. The next day at school everyone was talking about going to their grandma’s for Easter and how much fun they had. This was the first family holiday since we lost Jill. She felt like it wasn’t fair that she didn’t get to have her grandma and didn’t get to see her on Easter. She cried and I cried with her. I was heartbroken that my child was feeling so much pain and there’s nothing I can do about it. Try as I might, I can’t take that pain away. That night she came up to me and in the softest, sweetest voice said, “When will I heal? I just want to heal.” She broke me. I didn’t have an answer because I don’t know. I don’t know when she’ll heal or how she’ll heal. All I can do is give her my best. “I don’t know, honey. Healing takes time and everyone heals on their own. You will heal though and you’ll get through this. Take it one day at a time.”
Loss is the hardest thing for anyone to go through. Some deal with it through tears, laughs, sharing memories. Some shut themselves off from the world and process it alone. Dealing with and healing from loss is different for everyone. I honestly have no idea how to deal with loss myself, let alone help my kids deal with loss. We take it one day at a time. We tell them we are always there for them and we offer any help we can. Loss is never easy and it never gets easier. We still deal with our losses everyday and do everything we can to help our kids feel better, process everything, and heal even if for just a moment. Healing doesn’t happen overnight, but you will heal.