I previously wrote on my difficulty in processing my mother-in-laws death. It was cathartic and necessary but not the end to the processing of pain in my mind. Grieving the passing of a family member or friend is gut wrenchingly hard at best, but watching your children grieve the same loss is an unimaginable pain.
I thought it would be my 7 year old that had the hardest time. I thought she is who I would find crumpled in constant sadness and despair. She surprised me. She has taken it in stride. I know she has internalized a lot of it. Though even her teacher made note how well she was doing, how she seemed to force a growth of strength upon herself from the loss. This is not to say she doesn’t grieve. She does indeed. There are moments the loss washes over her and she holds onto me or her dad pouring her pain out for us to see. She does this though randomly and with great time between the waves. She misses her in a way I can’t always see. Her recent sadness over not being able to go to a local community Easter egg hunt isn’t due to the feeling of missing out on something fun, I know it is really because since she can remember it was something she always did and Grandma was there. One of the pictures we have is of Grandma with them at the hunt last year. So even if she doesn’t say that is the reason, I know the disappointment was from not getting to partake in something that has her Grandma’s memory attached.
Then there is our youngest. My 4 year old who amazes me each day with how much older she is than I realize. I thought the passing would be easiest on her. Being younger I thought would be a cushion. Death being too hard to really understand at that age and time being so forgiving I had hoped she would not understand the loss like us and it would not crush her like it has us. I was so very wrong. She talks more of missing her “Homey” each day. Time does not allow her to forget easily. Each little thing they use to do with Homey triggers a memory for her, from 1 year past or even 2. I honestly didn’t realize a child so young could remember so much of her younger days.
Death confuses, baffles and worries her now. She talks of it constantly. Telling her sister how we are all going to die, telling me so and so will die someday. Asking me again to explain why we die. Letting me know our dog will some day die because his body will stop working. Telling me how she doesn’t want to die. To be so young and have such a weighty subject pressing on her is hard for me to handle. I thought being young she wouldn’t grasp things, but she does. Death means no more Homey to hold her ever and she hates that. She has lost a sense of security in thinking we will always be there for her.
Even more so difficult is the nights she is trying to fall asleep and suddenly from our room I can hear her wailing. Most words difficult to make out, though very clearly the cries for “Homey” carry over everything else. Nights like these do not happen often, though the times grief over takes her is more often than her sister’s. Grief effects us all differently they say, and I see it so clearly with our girls. One particular night as I heard her cries grow from whimpers to roars I made my way slowly up the stairs trying to hear her words so I could better understand how I may soothe her. Her cries so loud she didn’t hear my approach and I could look in and see her sitting up in bed, facing the wall above her bed that had the picture frame full of her grandma’s pictures. As she cried facing the pictures I could clearly hear her cry out in her 4 year old voice “I Misss you Homey!!! I want you here.” We had told both children they could always talk to her, that she could hear them and though she couldn’t respond she was watching over them. and my dearest little bean was expressing to her all the pain she felt. And my heart split even wider.
The knife too my heart at watching my child’s grief pour out is a pain unlike any I have experienced. I walked up and wrapped her in my arms, holding her tight and talking with her about how she was feeling, what she missed about Homey and scratching her back. She likes the feel of my nails scratching her back, it is something that reminds her of Homey too since she use to do that for her.
Luckily, in general life goes on for her and she finds delight in new discoveries, she giggles her giggles and smiles and plays. Those moments when it hits though, those are rough.
Both girls, grieving in their own unique ways and watching each deal with it breaks my heart a little more each time. I wish I knew they would never feel such pain again but life will deal whatever hand it wishes to deal them and all I can do is be there to listen and hold them when the pain is too much to hold onto.