Many good things have happened to me in the fifty years that I have been in this world. Many bad, nasty things have happened to me too. For example, when I lost my parents one after the other a decade ago, I thought that I could not continue living again. Yet one thing that I have learned is that life is for the living and that even when a very close person dies, life still has to go on for those who have been left behind.
However, not all the deaths that I have witnessed could have prepared me for the loss of my husband a few months ago. It is with a deep feeling of loss that I write this blog post, but I do it for my daughter. Death is cruel, and so final because it means the end, and yet it is so much a part of life. So when I saw how hurt my young daughter was, I had to pull out of my grief and help her along. How do you help a child grieving for someone as close to her as her dad? It is hard, but I know if I had gone before my husband, he would have helped her get over me.
Here is what I did:
Explore the reality of death with your child
I had to take my daughter through the meaning of death, why everything that lives eventually dies. I had to make her understand that when a person dies, he or she cannot speak, blink, eat, drink or breathe. I told her how her father died and that he was thinking about us at the time. I also let her know that her father was very important to our lives and that we would never forget him.
Although she would ask many questions, I have learned how to answer all of them.
I let her feel the pain of loss
I have never stopped my daughter from crying. I want her to let off all the steam. I know it may take a long time but hey, I lost a husband, she lost a father. I have never been hesitant to express my sadness in front of her too. When I remember how my husband’s arms used to feel as he embraced me, I cry because I miss him so much. Yet I cannot repress these memories. I break down in front of her, and she comforts me. She breaks down in my presence and I comfort her.
I have taught her to be thankful for the time she had daddy in her life
Even in the ripping pain of loss through death, we should still be full of gratitude. We can be thankful for the time we had with the person who has left us. We do this by remembering the great times we had with daddy, the fun moments and we look at the pictures and the videos taken together. We love him, even more, when we remember him that way.
We have chosen mementos to remind us of daddy
I let my daughter choose something to keep remembering her daddy. I too have a few things that I will never let go off. Losing someone does not mean that with time they stop having been part of our life sometimes.
The grief never ends -the support should never end
The loss of a parent is very serious. As the children grow older, they will grief in different ways. Your child needs your support for the rest of her life. In future, expect sentences like, “if only dad was here …” You should never be insensitive and say things like, he is not, you have to cope etc. Just support her and say, “Yes, I am sure he would solve this for us.”