“Are you sad, mommy ? ”
It was my eldest asking. She has a way of noticing these things.
Although the question took me by surprise, I had no alternative but to answer it. Truthfully.
Yes dear, yes. Mommy is sad.
“Why are you sad, Mommy?”
Mommy is sad because bad things are happening to good people. Mommy is sad because she will have to say goodbye to somebody very dear to her much too soon. She is sad because she kept hoping for a miracle of sorts, but it never came.
I know it is OK to feel sad, but I try not to show it in front of my children, for fear that the sadness in my heart will to spill over into theirs. And I don’t want that. My first instinct is – and has always been – to protect my children. Protect them from harm, from illness, from heartbreak. To prolong their innocent happiness.
So instead of crying I try to be cheerful, hiding my worries behind a smile. I try not to upset their secure world more than necessary. But they noticed anyway. Apparently my eyes weren’t smiling anymore.
Serious illness and death which sometimes follows in its wake are new to them. When my father was diagnosed with colon cancer two years ago they were too young to really grasp what was happening. Granddad was sick and in the hospital, the doctor could make him better. He was in the hospital for a long time and visiting was no fun, because the hospital smelled weird.
But now, at 4 and 5 years old, my children are at that age when curiosity for EVERYTHING is at its peak. Although they may not fully grasp the situation or understand the permanence of death or the seriousness of illness, they do notice something is off. And they want answers and when they want answers they turn to ‘Mommypedia’.
There is no need to sit them down at the kitchen table and discuss for half an hour. I let them come to me of their own accord. This usually happens when they are colouring or when I’m driving them somewhere. It is impossible for them to NOT be active in any way, so when the body is forced to remain stationary the mind starts to work.
I try to keep things as simple as possible, try using the same words over and over so they won’t be confused. I compare the body to a clock which is broken and no watchmaker can fix. I explain why I’m sad, what will happen. If necessary I explain four or five times in a row.
But I don’t always have the answers. Even though the questions are so simple.
How do you talk to your children about death and grieving?
This is an original post to World Moms Blog by Tinne of Tantrums & Tomatoes from Belgium. Photo credit to the author.
It’s dark-thirty in the morning. The alarm goes off. It’s time to start the daily grind. I go into the bathroom, turn the faucet on, wet my toothbrush, spread some toothpaste on it and start brushing. I look up into the mirror. I look tired. I stare at the three white hairs that have started to grow along the part in my hair. All is quiet. Everyone is still sound asleep.
I start to wonder…what would be different if I were not here? It makes me sad to start thinking of not being around my girls and my husband. No more morning hellos with sleepy eyes peeking out from under disheveled bed head hair. No more bedtime stories and good-night snuggles. No more gentle kisses on warm sleeping heads as I watch my girls sleep before going to bed.
I get teary and have to stop thinking. I am thankful for this day. I will enjoy the day, be present in moments when I am interacting with those I care about, and at the end, reflect on the good things that have happened.
Why? Because life is fragile. We take it for granted. And the truth is we just never know when a lifetime will be cut short. (more…)
How do you talk about death to children? It is one thing to talk about it in the abstract, but a whole other thing when you have to tell them someone they know and love died.
I remember my first true experience with death. I was maybe around 9 years old. I was at school one day sitting in the middle row of desks. I turned and saw that one of my closest friends had turned red and was shaking in her seat.
She fell to the ground, some of the children around her got up to see if she was ok, and I just stood there. (more…)
The letter arrived in the mail on Saturday. There it sat, long, white and unopened. My heart skipped a beat. No, it wasn’t the anticipated college acceptance or rejection letter. Nor was it a job offer or denial. It was the letter that would represent my young son’s future: His teacher assignment for first grade.
I opened it up quickly with mixed feelings. Who would it be? Would it be who I wanted? Would his newly made friends from Kindergarten be in his class? Or, would he be all alone, faced once again to meet new friends?
As I read the letter, these thoughts raced through my mind, but a deeper, more powerful reaction took over my mind. (more…)
Today’s Friday Question comes to us from our founder, Veronica Samuels. This week she asked our writers…
“Why do you blog?”
And here are the responses from some of our World Moms…
Alison Lee of Malaysia writes:
“I love to write and I’m pretty opinionated and where better than to express it in my own little space? I also enjoy connecting with fellow moms, learning from their experiences, sharing in their joy, sadness and triumphs. I get a lot of satisfaction from blogging and have gained some friendships along the way. What’s not to love?”
Check out Alison’s blog at http://mamawantsthis.blogspot.com. (more…)