Thursday, September 20, 2012

Grief and the First-Grader

First off, I have to apologise. I haven't much felt like writing lately. I've composed dozens of "brilliant" posts in my head though. You know, while I'm showering, or trying to fall asleep at night, or driving an hour to be with my husband, whose mom has just passed away.

Yeah. We've been having a bit of a rough time lately. But we're coming out the other side now, and we're doing ok. Except maybe for Little Boo. He seems to be suffering from some after-effects.

I can't imagine how confusing this must be for a six year-old. I mean, we are all reeling from our very sudden loss, but Hubs, the Teen, and I are older. We understand more. We have more ways to cope. We are devastated, but we know what we're dealing with and can name our feelings.
Image: kozzi.com

A six year-old isn't there yet. And trying to help him grieve for his grandmother and acknowledge his feelings is confusing for me.

What does grief look like in my little boy? Well, at first it looked very quiet and isolated. He wanted to be alone. A lot. We gave him his space.

There was anger, or at least angry outbursts. "No" was not an answer he could accept for any request or wish. So much emotion bottled up in him exploded into anger when faced with an obstacle. We remained calm and let him storm off to his room. Or held him if he let us.

Lately there's been more cuddles and more clinging. With us and with his daycare teacher. He's looking for comfort I think. So we give it to him.

Because there's also a lot of fear.

On the weekend Little Boo wanted his big brother to help him with a video game. I suspect this was low on the Teen's list of desired activities, but he said he would help. Then he followed up with, "You know bud, you've got to start working on these on your own. I won't be around much longer to help you." Immediate meltdown and flinging himself into Mommy's arms. My big guy just meant he will be going to college next year. He may be moving away for that. (We hope not, but he seems to have other ideas.) My little guy heard he was going to die.

And of course I've been sick since July. For reals. Nothing serious, just a brutal bug or bugs I can't get rid of. But I've been off a lot, and I spent a lot of time in bed last week, trying to sleep the bugs away. Little Boo has told me he is worried about me. Grandma was sick one day. She was in hospital. Then she was gone. I've had to be pretty careful about how I talk about my illness. I'm trying to be clear with him that this is no big deal, and I'll be fine. But he looks at me sometimes, and you can see the fear in his eyes. I've tried to explain the difference between regular sick and dangerous sick, but it isn't easy to define in terms he'll understand.

And what did I do yesterday morning? I told him Daddy was driving him to school, because Mommy had to be at the hospital for 9am.  You should have seen his poor little face. And the trembling lip. I don't know what I was thinking! I am going to blame insufficient caffeine intake coupled with morning chaos. But I accidentally terrified my child. I quickly clarified that I had an appointment with a doctor for some tests about my breathing. He just happened to have his office at the hospital. Holy crow. This is hard.

Grieving is a very personal thing for everyone. We all deal with grief and loss in our own individual ways. There's no one right way to grieve, or one right thing to say. So we're tumbling through this together as a family as best we can. I'm opening space for Little Boo to talk about his feelings when he is ready. I've talked to him about Grandma being in heaven now, along with his great-grandmother and our kitty. He seems to like the idea of our cat being there with her, though he's not 100% convinced that cats have the same heaven.

We're reading some special books as well. My sweet friend Heather was kind enough to lend us her favourite books on death and grieving, that she had shared with her sons when their brother passed away. These books helped her boys to understand and come to terms with their loss, and we hope they will do the same for our guy. If I feel up to it, and if she doesn't mind, I'll try to share some thoughts on those books (and maybe more) here soon.

Meanwhile, I'm trying to get back on track. With my 9-5, my housework, and this blog. We'll talk soon.

1 comment:

  1. Oh deb, hugs! My girl was six when grandma passed away. Long battle with bone cancer. We knew it was coming but still shocking and sad no matter what.

    We read robert Munsch the lighthouse
    And charlottes web.

    We have had too many sad deaths since . It is always hard. Sounds like you have a sensitive little guy.

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