Saturday, 1 February 2014

Losing a Grandparent

'0528 my decorations' photo (c) 2007, David Morris - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/My daughter lost her Grandad just after the new year. It is the first time she has experienced loss and grief, and as a parent I am not entirely sure how I should be dealing with it.

Having been diagnosed with cancer for many years, but being in reasonable health the adults in our family of course had time to mentally prepare - in a way. I mean, you can't ever truly prepare, but you know it will come eventually.  It still happened quite suddenly though. Lots of illness over the course of the year, but once it became life-threatening - well, there really wasn't long.

It's not difficult to support adults through a time of grief.  You kind of know what you need to do because you they understand what is happening.  My husband lost his father and mother-in-law her husband. Both are naturally devastated (we all are). But both are healing and coping very well.  And I'm just trying to play my part the best I can

But how do you help a 4 year old through the grieving process?

She's at the age where nothing gets past her. She's not going to forget in a hurry, not like if she were a year old.  The questions are coming thick and fast. Where is Grandad now? Why won't I see him again? If we visit his grave and I talk to him, will he hear me?

I don't have a faith and I don't know what answers to give.  I'm not comfortable with imparting my version of harsh reality, yet I can't give a definite "Grandad's in heaven"  My husband is the same.  We have however talked about various beliefs surrounding death so that she can hopefully latch on to what makes the most sense to her.

But it really is upsetting to see your child struggling with grief - especially when coupled with incomplete comprehension.

I've read the expert advice I've found online.  But I'd like to ask if anyone has been through the loss of their children's grandparent?  What did you find helped?

Out of nowhere my daughter asked to visit Grandad's grave again this morning. So tomorrow we will take flowers and she can tell him about her week.

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8 comments:

  1. I have a 9 year old, 7 year old, 4 year old, and 1 year old they have lost 6 great grandparents whom they were very close to in the last 3 years...........we believe that the body is just a shell and is put into the ground. the spirit leaves the body (we use the example with the kids with your hand in a glove....the hand is the body the glove is the spirit). The spirit is all round us, we can't see it but we can feel it. If we had special glasses on then we could see them. they are always there for us. When my kids are in a performance, or choir, or sport game some times I feel my grandparents there and it brings tears to my eyes because I know they are cheering for my kids. I am so sorry for your loss.

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    1. I'm sorry for your losses too, Sarah. I love the hand in glove analogy. I think I will actually try that when my daughter next brings it up (which she definitely will!) Thanks ever so much for your comment x

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  2. I am so sorry to hear of your loss. It is difficult to deal with your child's grieg when you are grieving yourself. Although sometimes that can help you too. I have no words of advice for it was the 'heaven' speech we were able to use. You will find your way through. I like Sarah's idea....

    xx Jazzy

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    1. Aww thanks Jazzygal. I know these things are never easy but holding a faith must be comforting at times like this. I liked Sarah's idea too x x

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  3. I don't have any experience or advice to share but just wanted to say how sorry I am to hear both of your loss and also the challenge that comes with it of explaining it in a way that feels right to your daughter - no easy task for sure. It's very touching that she asked to visit his grave. I remember losing a grandparent as a young child and I missed them but was too young to really feel immense loss and get really upset. Wishing you all much strength getting through this tough time. xx

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    1. Thank you. We didn't get to the grave at the weekend so if the weather holds up then we'll be going there today, perhaps with a pot of flowers.
      I too lost my first grandparent at the age of 2, so like you, too young to be truly affected. And thanks for your wishes. It's very much appreciated x x

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  4. So sorry to read this and that Babyzoid is struggling with the loss of her Grandad. My kids were sad, but asked few questions. I like Sarah's answer too, and if asked I would have used Heaven when they were younger, but now explain that they are always with you through your memories of them, and everything they contributed to your life, or something like that. Now that I can talk about my parents without being tearful I often bring them into the conversation and hopefully that helps xx

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    1. Thank you - yes it's really difficult when it's still quite raw. I know my husband finds it so, but it's generally me my daughter talks about it too - or playschool! I think it's a good thing to keep talking about them, like you say - help keep the memories alive. I'd hate her to forget him because he absolutely doted on her, and she him. Thanks ever so much x x

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