When I became a mother I wanted to forever shield my daughter's from the bad things in life. What I learned recently is the hardest times in life can hit you when you lease expect it and your shield will be down. Wanting to shield my daughter's was not realistic and I was glad that I didn't get a chance to hide from them when we lost two very dear people. By shielding I wouldn't have witnessed the emotional growth of my daughter's.
In April, I had a friend who lost her infant daughter and who's husband 12 days later joined his daughter in Heaven and from this grief I could not hide.
It started the day my friend called me to tell me her sweet daughter had passed away. My girls were a few feet from me when they saw me fall to me knees and call for my husband. They saw me in anguish and sorrow so deep that it still takes my breath away to think about that moment inside that day.
Then again when I returned from comforting my friend the day her husband took his life, I walked into my house and both my husband and I were consumed with sadness. From this there was no hiding. Our hearts were broken, our grief palpable and our sadness intense. My daughter's gave hugs and kisses without words or prompting.
When my husband and I came home from the funerals and cried together we had to explain to them again about where we were and what had happened. And this time they knew to be sad for my friend and her two children. When they ask questions about heaven or were constantly worried that one of us was going to heaven, we stopped and listened to them. We heard them thru their little grief. We explained in our best way.
When this experience started all I could think of was how to "shield" them from all of these hard truths, the sadness and the crippling grief that was our current situation but in my attempt to shield I had underestimated my brilliant daughters.
From letting them see us in these sad moments, they have learned empathy, patience and kindness for someone who is suffering. From their inquisitive questions regarding heaven and how heaven works they have learned that there is a place that people go and that is okay to miss someone and ask hard questions.
My friend has two remaining children only one that is at the age to verbally understand as my girls do that heaven exists. The only difference is their sweet friend has lost her daddy and sister to this place called "heaven". I have witnessed my older daughter tell her that she is sorry about heaven. I know that in the true sense they don't understand but I have watched them try and comfort their friend. it is hard to watch but honest in the way only kids can be.
My littlest in her observant way crawled into the lap of my friend who lost so much and snuggled up close. She knew that she needed to be held and could sense in that moment what she needed. In these small times I see them and know they recognize different emotions.
A few days ago, they were with me and I was selling something for my friend that she could not sell for herself and once it was gone a wave of sadness hit me so hard that I couldn't move. I sobbed and sobbed and tried to stop and without me saying anything my oldest said. "Mommy, its okay we miss her too" and my smallest said "Mommy, you don't have to be sad. I will make you happy".
They heal me in ways no one else can.
It lessened my sadness and eased my grief. I told them both that I loved them more than anything and that I am always happy with them. And we moved on from the moment.
It is not the end of this journey from sadness, it still hits me every couple of days and it is crippling but I am glad that I didn't hide it from my daughter's because without intentionally teaching them something, they learned something important. Something besides themselves or the moment they were having. Life is not perfect or easy or always happy.
They understand now about sadness and grief in their own way. They know when to comfort a friend , show empathy during sadness and love when its needed. I continue to learn myself every day but they taught me my own lessen. Show them real life, help them understand and they will surprise you.
This is the first post I have been able to write about this experience and I want to write more. I will keep going and sharing because there are so many things I need to share. For the next person, the next mother or the next friend who has no idea how to walk thru grief with someone.
I do not hide my bad moments from my daughter's any longer and either does my husband. We let them see us in the moments we can not breathe and the moments when are thoughts are in heaven with our friend and his daughter. It is not something we would every have thought could teach us so much.
We are still waking thru our grief and doing our best to help them learn that after a storm, even if it takes a long time..the sun will come out again.