Kids and Grief


It’s mid-June already. June is half gone and still the journey of grief has not ended. If you would have told me when he died that I’d still have days when grief sapped my energy over 9 months later, I would have thought you didn’t know me. You would be underestimating the fact that am not a curl-up-and-stop-living kinda gal.
But then again, I’d never walked this kind of grief. And I’d never been responsible to help four fragile souls walk it too.
My kids are so unique. They have been since my pregnancies with each. Each one is a unique person created by a loving God to do amazing things. My favorite part of motherhood is watching who they are growing to be each day. Each one has their own personalities and experiences and hobbies. And so it makes sense that each one also has their own unique means of dealing with grief.
My heart has ached for them since that sad night when tragedy forever altered their universes and I had to tell them Daddy was gone. This was not something I could shield them from or make go away. This was not something I could fix. This is life and this is the journey God entrusted to them, as painful as is it.
As I’ve walked the past nine months as a widow, I have had to deal with my own waves of grief and struggles to deal in the day-to-day with the loss of my husband, my partner, my friend. I’ve also had to deal with their grief. I have had to become head of the home, spiritual leader, and grief counselor all rolled up inside this one exhausted mama.
The week he died little things that he liked could reduce me to tears. Seriously I burst into tears when someone held up a bottle of Famous Dave’s BBQ sauce to ask if the kids wanted it with dinner and all I could say was this was his favorite. Sobs poured out and I remember collapsing against Chelsea’s shoulder feeling lost, helpless, sad, and a touch embarrassed that BBQ sauce caused this reaction.
Now I can make the bed and smile remembering how he loved the smell of the blankets fresh off drying on the line. Now I can laugh with Lucy about a day when Daddy swung on a swing next to her. Now I can appreciate the irony that the exhaustion of dealing with all this has forced me to give in to naps. Kraig used to say I needed to appreciate naps more. I rarely can shut my mind down to nap. Kraig could fall asleep at the drop of a hat.
For the most part now, the things that sap my energy and reduce me to watching House Hunters International when I should be cleaning are when grief sneaks up on my kids. When grief sucker punches my son and he confesses to me something that has bothered him since the funeral because he didn’t understand it. When one of my daughters still doesn’t want to talk about it much and I wonder how long I wait between asking how she’s doing. When my tiniest princess comes upstairs at bedtime and tells me she misses Daddy’s snuggles, again. When my son with autism confesses to me his fear that it’s his fault that dad died because he prayed for God to take Dad’s pain away and I told him there’s no pain in heaven.
That last one stole my breath and made me reach deep for a Biblically-sound answer. Five years of Bible college, don’t fail me now. But more important than any theology class I took is the journey God has allowed me to walk with Him and the time I’ve spent praying that I would not screw this up with my kids. These things have shored up my foundation and reminded me of the security of my faith.
I took time to explain to Ryan that, no, it wasn’t his fault. God is not like a mean genie waiting to twist our words. I explained that God sees all of the world and time like a big picture that we can’t see because we are tiny parts of the picture. God knows what is best and loves us. I trust He had a reason for letting Daddy go to heaven and He will continue to take care of us. Ryan smiled through his tears and told me he believes me. He even told me I could put it in my blog because he had read one of my blogs and it helped him understand how I feel missing Dad.
These things make me lose sleep. These things hit me in the gut. These things make me understand why someone would enjoy a glass of wine to cope. I can’t stand the taste so I settle for popcorn. But most importantly, these things drive me to pray.
God knew the kind of journey this would set my kids on. He knew the wounds that would show up on their hearts after losing a Daddy who loved them. He knew how this will affect their lives and He still promises He has plans for them—plans to prosper and not harm them, plans to give them hope and a good future. He has promised He will use even this for their good. I trust that with every fiber of my being.
So I continue to work on a more disciplined devotional time in the morning over cups of tea. I will allow myself the occasional House Hunters marathon to recover from the whirlwind of dealing with four unique people I’m guiding through grief. I will allow myself the expense of some Smart Fit Popcorn from Sam’s club the next time I go. I will allow myself a nap every now and again because these things help me recharge for the next time one of them needs to be sad and ask questions from wounded hearts.
And I will give thanks that for the most part, life is moving on in their worlds. Jarod is making his clay figures for his big summer movie. Ryan is trying to find books to enjoy so he can keep his Landscaping class at high school next fall instead of additional reading. Kati is excitedly getting ready for Rainbow Bible Ranch for insane amounts of horse fun. Lucy is trying her best to read to me so she moves forward in her reading level—her idea, bless her. They laugh. We live life. We fall into the new rhythm of normal.
I will keep moving forward because I know God goes with me. And if He is with me, as hard as this is, I have nothing to fear.
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