Loss, Death, Bereavement – be it a family member, a friend, a pet or even a person who is part of your child’s life in some vicarious way. How do we get our kids through it? How do we help them cope?
It’s a dark subject that we hope our kids will never experience, and that we can get them through to adulthood or as near as possible without them encountering a significant loss. Even as an adult, I find those concepts terrifying and want to run away and hide from them. As a child, I can only imagine how frightening they must be.
Yet, it does happen and I had to cover this with my son Josh when we lost Kate to a heart attack. For me, it was – and still is – a balancing act! On the one hand you have to explain death, and the reality that Mam isn’t going to be here with us anymore and cruel as it seems, the fact that Mam isn’t ‘’asleep’’. She won’t wake up with a magical Disney kiss and she isn’t coming home to us ever again, but that she will always be with us in our hearts and memories.
On the other hand, your child is mourning and you want to make that pain go away for them (and yourself too!) but you don’t want to couch that attempt at alleviation in false hope.
The time Kate spent in hospital is a blur to me and I can only imagine what it was like for Josh, foisted away on my Mam and my sisters, not knowing what was happening at all and not knowing where Mam and Dad were or when they’d be back. The time spent at Kate’s bedside and in the ICU waiting room was torture. I knew before the ambulance left our home that Kate was gone, she was down too long and the logical part of my mind knew that it was game over. I had to sit and wait when all I wanted to do was go home, get Josh and lock ourselves away at home until we woke up from the nightmare.
However, logic does go out window when every twitch and muscle spasm is seen as hope that maybe she’s ok, she’s going to recover! You think of course she’s going to be ok, because God/Buddah/Allah/Ctuluh/ZombieSkyFairy – whatever Deity was in charge of this shitstorm, wouldn’t take her away from us? Leave me without her? Leave Josh without his Mammy? Surely he couldn’t leave our little Monkey without his Mammy? He needed her! I needed her!
But Kate was taken away.
Even though Josh was only 3 when Kate died, he had so many memories of her. From the very start it was vital for me that he kept them, so whenever something jogged a memory of Kate for him – we talked about it to keep it fresh and to ensure that he gets to keep his own memories of his Mam.
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**If you and your family have been effected by bereavement, you can seek support at: www.rainbowsireland.com
[Read Part Two of Bryan’s Incredible Story HERE]