Explaining loss to children

On Friday night my husband’s grandmother died.

The next morning our boys crawled into bed beside me and for a few sweet moments there was silence. Then, quietly, I told them.

Their faces said all the things they don’t have words for. Big emotions swirled wordlessly behind little, soulful eyes.

It’s just a word to them for now.

It won’t mean much at first. Death only gains currency when you begin to realise what loss really means.

For now loss is just a misplaced precious DVD or a toy stashed somewhere, its whereabouts momentarily forgotten. They feel it keenly but it’s a fleeting moment of sparky angst that vanishes when the wanted item reappears, which it invariably does, eventually. They don’t yet know the longevity of loss. They just know that it makes them miss their Daddy all the more, and together we re-counted how many more sleeps until he comes home from visiting Great Big Gran.

This morning my mind is on the legacy this beloved great-grandmother leaves behind her. The ripples of character and personality that never would have been, were it not for her. Remarkable.

And what an honour it must be to live long enough to see your influence – in genes and smiles and interests – living on.

And live on they will, present every day in little ones who already feel they miss her, without yet really knowing what that means.

At times like this – well actually, at ANY time in our house – we can usually find a word of wisdom from the venerable Albus Dumbledore that helps sum up the things that small boys sense but can’t explain.

In Dumbledore’s own words:

“To the well-organised mind, death is but the next great adventure.”

I think Great Big Gran would heartily approve of that.

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5 thoughts on “Explaining loss to children

  1. Tara Martin says:

    Lovely words Feisty Mama. Very relevant for our family right now.

    Our 3 year old is very happy to know that there is a house in Heaven for his Grandpa who so sadly passed away a month ago. Then last night at bedtime, the question that came up…… ‘will he come un-alive again?’ brought tears to my eyes.

    Wee people 🙂

    • Feisty Mama says:

      Thanks for reading. I’m a bit uncomfortable writing quite so personally here these days – but thought I’d push myself on the basis that it might help others to feel less alone with this. So sorry for your loss. We’ve had similar questions and my boys ‘buried’ a toy today during play and then I overheard them discussing the possibility that he might come alive later… so hard for them to grasp.

  2. Honest Mum says:

    All my condolences. Hope you are all ok…

  3. Andrew Hill says:

    Thank you, as that was lovely. I will share it.

  4. Andrew Hill says:

    Sadly, the timing is relevant, as we try to explain this to our six-year-old… Tomorrow is his grandfather’s funeral, and he wants to know: “does this mean I will never see him again?”

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