Helping the little ones with grief

Woo has had a hard time coming to terms with the fact that his Grandad is no longer with us. Truth be told we all are, but Willy, his mother,  his brothers and I can at least understand the concept of death.  I wasn’t sure how Woo would react to his death Grandad’s death, but I was certain that there would be an endless supply of questions.

I think he has asked a million questions in the last week, and we have answered them all, even if it hurt to answer, if they made us cry, or if they were somewhat inappropriate, like when he asked where Grandad’s head was.  That one that still has me wondering, and occasionally laughing at, his perception of death.  It seems that his perception of death is that your head comes off when you die.

The questions continued and were asked repeatedly, enough so that it made me worry that we weren’t adequately responding.  I turned to my friends on twitter and got some great resources, and reassurance that we were.  They reminded me that death is a really hard concept for the young children to understand.  We kept the answers simple, truthful and repeated as needed.  We did ask Woo to try and save his questions for just us, just for this trip. We explained that Gramma was sad, and that she might not be able to answer his questions.  He was so good about asking us discretely, but I still question the wisdom of that decision, whether we were sending the right message.

He is definitely aware of the significance of the fact that his Grandad passed away.  He uses it as an ice-breaker when meeting new people, and when seeing friends.  I don’t have the heart to tell him that you don’t generally introduce yourself to the neighbours with “my Grandad died”, as I know he is just processing.  Sadly, this is how some of the neighbours found out about his passing.

I was somewhat shocked at the amount that Goose is aware and understands.  I figured that she would notice our upset, but that would be the extent of her awareness.  I was wrong.  When she woke on friday morning, she asked “Mommy, did Grandad die?  Is that why he is not here?”  It made me cry, knowing that she was that aware.  She is not as focussed on the death, but aware. I knew that she would sense the change, see the sadness.  I didn’t think she would understand at all.

Having the lils with us helped us in many ways.  They were a distraction, if nothing else.  They let us focus our energies on them, and not dwell on who wasn’t there.  At times they made us laugh, when we did not think that we would.  They even too care of us, dolling out hugs and kisses, and wiping away our tears.

We are home now, and I know that they are both hurting too, and there is nothing that I can do to help that, other than offer my love. It’s hard though, when I am hurting too. Woo has been so cranky these days, prone to fits of crying at the slightest upset.  I don’t always handle it well, and then I feel guilty.  Goose is showing some of the same behaviour, but it is difficult to tell if she is just acting like her brother.  Hopefully getting back to routine will help.  They had a good day today, but they are still not their happy go lucky selves. They continue to fight, to act out.  We’re fumbling along, and I just hope that we are helping them.

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About lilbunnyrabbitz

Ottawa mom to two crazy little peeps, wife to my favourite geek. More on me later.
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