This grief thing is unfamiliar territory. It’s difficult. It seems even more difficult when we need to help our children grieve, too. When loss knocks us off our feet and leaves us on a desperate journey toward hope, we still have to be there for our living children. We still have to do this parenting thing.
We were uncertain how to help Asher and Eva Joy process their grief when we received the news that their brother was going to die before his first birthday. It’s not something that’s discussed in parenting books.
So we muddle our way through it, praying for wisdom and grace.
We sat in the lounge of some (very gracious and new) friends who had put us up for a majority of our time in Leeds. We needed to share the news with Asher and Eva Joy that Titus was going to die, but we didn’t know when. We inwardly said a prayer and began by asking Asher if he remembered when a friend of ours died of cancer last year. He sort of understood that our friend was now in Heaven. So he now made the connection that Titus was very ill and was going to die and go to Heaven. A little while later, he asked our friend Helen, ‘Did you know Titus is dying?’ It broke my heart.
But it helped me grieve when I saw him process his grief.
We came home from the children’s hospice the day Titus died. Our hearts were shocked and numb. Titus had deteriorated quickly and died before we could get there. Our family and a couple friends spent the afternoon at hospice weeping and appreciating each other’s company. Once we got home for dinner, Asher burst into tears. Grief and sadness are new emotions for him. He didn’t know how to handle the new emotions he was experiencing. Quite honestly, neither did I. The best we could do was give him a hug and pray with him. Leon explained that it’s okay to feel sad because he misses his brother.
The hug helped me heal a little bit, too.
Eva Joy asked about Titus one day about a month or so after Titus died. She asked about seeing Titus, so I pulled out a memory box we’d been given by the children’s hospice. We looked through a book with some photos of Titus taken just hours before he died. Her innocence is a blessing. I don’t know if she understands that her little brother is no longer with us on earth, but I’m grateful I get to talk with her about him.
Even though it’s painful, hearing my daughter ask about Titus brings healing to my heart.
Every now and then, one or both of the children come downstairs after bedtime sounding as if they’re near tears. They usually tell Leon and me that they’re missing Titus, so they want a hug. Now, since it’s after bedtime I can’t help but think that this is a stalling tactic for going to bed. But since we’re dealing with grief, I’m not going to deny them a hug and a prayer when they’re missing their brother.
Sometimes a little grace is needed, especially in the midst of grief.
Helping our children grieve isn’t easy when we need to grieve, too. However, being open to talk about the person who died and the emotions that come with it bring healing to our hearts, too. Sometimes we have to keep our emotions in check when helping our children grieve. Other times we let the tears stream down our faces as we accept their love and hugs. Comfort in grief is a mutual thing.