I’m going to preface this post by saying that I am in no way a professional in talking to your children about losing a loved one. My family recently had a significant loss, so I’ve had the opportunity to talk to Emily about someone dying. Depending on your views on death and your own religion, you might have the conversation in a different way. This post will talk about how I handled talking to Emily about losing a family member. Please take it for what it is. This is my story and my truth. Nothing more.
A little back story …
On Friday, June 7, 2019, this world lost an amazing man and Heaven was lucky enough to gain an angel. That man was my father. My father fought a long, hard battle with a glioblastoma (brain tumor). He had surgery and many treatments. In the end, there was nothing that could cure him. And now because of that tumor/cancer, my family is heartbroken.
I had gone to South Carolina quite a times before my father died. Emily knew that Grandpa was sick. She didn’t know the gravity of the situation. All that she knew was that Grandpa was sick and that Mommy was going to help Mimi. I had told her that once he was feeling better she could come to South Carolina with me. But as my father got worse, I knew that I didn’t want her to see my father like that. I wanted her to remember my dad as the fun-loving guy he was.
I was lucky enough to be there (in the house) when my dad passed away. I didn’t know if I could be there, but in the end I knew I would have regretted it if I didn’t go. And now looking back, I’m happy I was there.
Having to break the news to Emily …
While I was away in South Carolina, with my family in my father’s last moments, my husband was brave enough to break the news to our daughter. Emily is four years old, so breaking the news to her had to be done in a somewhat delicate way. We didn’t want to scar her, or have her fear anything. He told her that Grandpa died and went to Heaven. He said that she took it very well.
My husband said that Emily teared up a bit, but never let the tears fall. She told my husband how much she was going to miss Grandpa. She also had a lot of questions for him. My husband didn’t share them all; sparing my feelings and how I was feeling at the time. I know that she asked him if she would ever see Grandpa again. It broke my heart to know that he told her “no”. I believe in Heaven, so I believe that she will see my dad again when she gets there someday. But I think that she is still a little too young to understand that. [No need for her to fear that she would die and go to Heaven any time soon.]
When I got home …
Arriving home I was given some time to rest and process what had just happened. I can’t thank my husband enough for giving me the time I needed. Given the time, I knew what I would say to Emily. Losing someone is never easy, but having to talk to your child about it is so hard. Having a little extra time, I was prepared.
Emily came home later that day and we were able to talk. She gave me a big hug. I tried not to cry when she hugged me. She said that she was sorry to hear about Grandpa going to Heaven. I couldn’t hold back the tears. Before she could get upset about seeing me cry, I told her that she’d see me, Auntie, and other people crying a lot in the near future. That was because we all missed Grandpa so much. I explained that it was okay to cry about it. She hugged me again.
She and I sat in front of some pictures of my father and talked. She said she knew that she would never see him again. I told her that he would live in our hearts and minds forever. We even decided that we would put a picture of the two of them in her room, so she could see his face whenever she wanted.
The hardest part …
The hardest part of my talk with Emily was about how Grandpa actually died. She knew that Grandpa was sick, but I wasn’t sure that she would understand the whole concept of cancer. I reminded her that when she gets sick with a cold or the flu that we give her medicine and she rests. Then she feels better. I told her that Grandpa had cancer which was a different kind of sickness. And all of the medicine and rest couldn’t make him better. And that is why he went to Heaven.
For now, I think she understood.
My biggest fear of telling her how Grandpa died was that she would be afraid to get sick. But right now, she doesn’t seem to be afraid. The only thing she seems remotely concerned with is that she’ll never see her Grandpa again. And for that, I’m truly sorry.
My wishes and hope …
I wish that Emily had more time with her Grandpa. She loved him so much. And I know that he loved her. They were two peas in a pod. When she was with him, she was a complete Grandpa’s girl. Emily knows that her Grandpa is a great man. She knows how much he loved his family. I will never let her forget how much she meant to him, and what he meant to all of us.
Losing someone is never easy, but I’ve never lost someone this close to me. My heart is just broken. I miss my father every day. I know that it will take me some time. I’m trying to think about all the good times that we had together with a smile. It’s hard though. While I try and smile, the tears are still there. I know in time I will get there. I hope that I can get there sooner rather than later.
To know more about my views on religion, click here.
As you can tell from this post, I did some traveling recently. Take a look at this post to see my views on a certain airline. Click here!