09 July 2010

No Sugarcoating



 

How to break the news of a death in the family to the little ones.  We’ve had to deal with that this week.  My father-in-law passed away and in between mourning, doing last-minute errands, and scrambling around trying to change our flight tickets (which had been booked for departure later this month), we had to figure out a way to break the news gently to Josh and Zoë.

I had prepared Josh a bit earlier by telling him that Grandpa was in the hospital and was very sick.  Josh either did not fully comprehend the import of what I had just said or his little heart and mind were not quite ready to deal with the implications of what I’d said;  he chose to change the topic.  I think it was a little bit of both.  I decided not to push it.

My friend had given us a book before called What Is Heaven Like? by Beverly Lewis.  Not knowing where to start telling Josh that his Grandpa had just passed away, we’d decided to use the book to sort of ease into the topic.  I was reading it to them and I was getting emotional, hardly able to get the words out coherently.  I was a snivelling wreck, but I had to get on with it.  

image

I told them that Grandpa had been very sick and that he is in heaven now.  Josh, in his very direct way, asked, “You mean he died?”  That stopped me.  Chris and I looked at each other.  I shouldn’t have been too surprised, but I was taken aback.  Kids are more clued in than we give them credit for.  I said yes after a moment.  Then he looked at me and asked, “Well, why didn’t you say that in the first place?”  Why didn’t I indeed? 

We try to shield our children  from things that might hurt them, things that might make them not happy.  And sometimes we’ve been doing it for so long that we forget that they might be ready for some things not to be sugarcoated anymore.

33 COMMENTS:

Hannah said...

So true, we do often forget how much our children are aware of. Still I think the book was a nice way to break the news. I am sorry for your loss.

jen@odbt said...

I'm so sorry for your loss. My condolences.

blueviolet said...

I am so terribly sorry to hear this and I hope the kids handle it ok. Big hugs to all of you.

Saranne said...

So sorry for your loss. Hugs to all. OX

natalee said...

Im sooo sorry for your loss...my prayers are with you at this time my friend...

Becky Jane said...

You're right 'straight forward' is the best. Both of my parents died within 10 minutes of eachother, both from massive heart attacks. It was quite the emotional strain, but knowing God and knowing our children knew God and his tender mercies makes all the difference.
My prayers are with you and your family.

Aunt LoLo said...

So sorry. :-( But glad that he is taking it well. Kids don't seem to be afraid of dying. When we moved back here, Ming Wai was asking about all the family members, and asked me where my mother's mommy was. "In heaven. She died and now she lives with Heavenly Father." She thought for a second..."Oh!" It's just another place...like New York City, or Hong Kong, to her!

Safe travels. *hugs*

ThisMamaRAZZI said...

Ugh. I'm really sorry for your loss. You did it right though. U just never know. Hugs.

Jenjen @GottaLoveMom said...

I'm sorry for your loss. Kids have heard of death so we have to be honest and direct. When my 15yo niece passed away from dengue fever 3 years ago, letting the kids know was very tough...and what's tougher is that kids no matter how young are deeply affected by it. We didn't get to physically say good-bye so my little guy was 4 then and one week after he asked me if he can go to heaven just to see how his cousin is doing...so keep an eye on your little ones and just talk to them.
Your family are in my thoughts and prayers..

Wanda said...

So true. Our kids always get it right.

I'm very sorry for your loss. It's stressful enough to loss a parent (or in-law) but travelling adds to that. Take care!
Hugs.

Dandy said...

I'm sorry to hear about your father-in-law. you'll be in my thoughts.

I think Josh is a very aware and very smart. Like his parents :)

LPC said...

Sorry about your loss, and Chris's loss. But you are right. Our kids let us know, if we haven't figured it out, when they are ready to take the next step in growing up.

Veronica Lee said...

I'm so sorry about your loss. You're in my prayers.

((hugs))

RoseBelle said...

My condolences to your family. Sometimes kids are smarter than we think. When my kids' great-grandpa passed away, my son who was 5 or 6 at the time asked if gong gong dad died because he saw my dad crying. I was speechless. It really surprised me to see that he can connect things like that.

Sonya said...

I'm so sorry about your loss. We had to go through this last year. It was a shock and my two boys who are 12 and 10 handled it better than I did. Kids are able to handle alot more than we give them credit for sometimes.

LeAnna said...

I'm so sorry you're going through this. I know it was so hard for my brother in-laws to tell their girls that their uncle had passed away. So true, we often assume they're not capable of handling and processing information, but they very much are...and then some. Prayers to you and yours during this time.

Lindy said...

I'm so sorry for your loss. My Father In Law passed away a couple of months ago and telling the kids was a very difficult time. My 7 year old still talks about it now - I think she's still trying to work through it.

Good thoughts are coming your way.

Sole Sister said...

They go out into the world. It's hard to know how much they know and how strong they are. BUT, they are stronger than we think and know much more.

My kids handled what happened to us last year better than I did. They get through it.

I am sorry that you are faced with this.

paige said...

What a sad thing to go through. It seems like your kids might be handling it better than you thought, which is a good thing. :)

Nezzy said...

First of all I am so very sorry for your loss. Grandpa is not longer sick or in pain...he's dancin' with Jesus! Yes indeed, we underestimate children way too much.

God bless you and your family, may God give you peace and sweet rest.

Have a safe trip celebrating the life of your dear FIL.

Help! Mama Remote... said...

So sorry to hear this. Our children are really smart.

The Practical Mom Guide said...

I am so sorry for your family's loss. Children are so in tune with what is going on around them. Have a safe journey.

Susan said...

Sorry to hear of your loss. Children are amazing and resilliant aren't they? The book is really nice though. I do believe that children are protected by God by the horrible feelings death brings adults. That's why you see small children out playing afterwards. But it is when they get older that they end up missing the deceased person. I believe it's God's way of protecting them. I myself went through this, my father died suddenly when I was seven years old of a 30 second coronary occlulsion. It took until I was older and then I missed him terribly and still miss not having gotten to know him the way I wish I could have.
Susan
http://amazingcouponanddiscountdeals.blogspot.com
http://joininandgogreen.blogspot.com

a Tonggu Momma said...

I am so very sorry for your family's loss. It can be so very hard. And yes, sometimes I am amazed at how much the Tongginator understood last year when dealing with our two back-to-back losses.

hypermom said...

B, so sorry for your loss.

Dina @ 4 Lettre Words said...

So sorry for your loss. That book sounds wonderful and I think I will make the purchase. My son, Sam, actually has a friend that is very sick. (7 years old) It looks like the end is nearing and I've already been thinking of how to explain it all.

elaine said...

Sorry to hear this. My condolences.

The Single Mothers Chronicles said...

I am sorry for your loss....I think the book was a good idea; kids are amazing aren't they with their directness?

Hope you are having a good vacation - thanks for visiting my blog during Naomi's guest post - hope to see you again!

Swati

Ash said...

awww - i felt teary reading this post. :(( condolences to you and your family.

when my sis's FIL passed away, her twins were on the phone with the MIL and they asked "where is FIL?", MIL said "he is in heaven..." and one of the twins said "he'll be happy there because the pretty angels will keep him company". we all bawled our eyes out :(((((

Chocolate Covered Daydreams said...

I'm so very sorry about your fil passing away. It is amazing how much kids can perceive. I'm praying that both of them are able to understand the tears and sadness. Safe travels to you.

Saranne said...

So sorry for your loss....may you have safe travels, and know that my prayers are with you all..Saranne OX

Elle Bee said...

So sorry for the loss in your family. That book sounds wonderful.

Tezzie said...

Oh, I'm so sorry for your loss. Aren't kids amazing, though...they can handle so much more than we often give them credit for (of course it helps that they have such amazing parents such as yourselves, who have helped form the foundations of understanding and coping). Thinking of you, and sending you a big hug!

Post a Comment

Blog Widget by LinkWithin