Everyone loses someone they love, eventually. It’s the circle of life, right? Every living thing has its end. While some handle the loss of a loved one in a more composed way, for other’s the hurt can be debilitating. Either way, losing someone you care about hurts, bad. Being a parent and dealing with death puts an added stress that you would never think about unless you’re in that particular situation.
Trying to keep your emotions in check for the kids is a grueling task. But as mothers and fathers, I think it is important to show our kids that crying or being sad is a crucial part of life and is just as important as laughing and being happy!
I lost my Grandma on March 20, 2018.
It’s been a year and a half and it still hurts just as much today as it did then. She was my angel since the day I was born, my best friend, and my hero. And boy oh boy, did that woman love my kids. She loved her grandkids more than anything in this world, and I think she loved her great grandkids even more. At the time, my sister and I were the only grandkids to have kids of our own, and to see her with them was magical. My 4 children adored her. Everyone did. The day she left this earth, my heart felt as though it had stopped beating with hers. When I had to come home from Hospice to talk to my kids, my entire body went numb. At the time they were only 8, 5, 3, and 1. How would they react? How was I going to explain that they will never see her again?
Turns out, that wasn’t the hardest part.
Days passed. Weeks passed. Now, over a year later I still have serious moments of weakness and heartache. Some days I just need her, ya know? But, I can’t just lay in bed all day, or look at pictures of her, or watch home videos, because I have a family to take care of. I have a whopping 6 people (including myself) to manage. I don’t have time to be sad. Or maybe, giving in to the sadness when the feeling strikes, is just what I need to do.
Ya see, many times since that day, my kids have randomly said “I miss G-ma.” Or “Remember when we were with G-ma and…” and I hug them and tell them that I miss her too and that it’s okay to be sad. Sometimes, the grief still shakes them too. The other day in the car, we were listening to a song about losing a loved one- “Used to You” by Luke Combs. Out of the 6 of us, I thought my husband and I were the only ones awake. And then we heard sobbing from the 3rd row of the minivan. My 10 year old didn’t want to tell us what was wrong. She eventually broke down and said the song reminded her of G-ma. I can remember hugging her and trying to choke back my tears as she wept in my arms.
Why would I keep those emotions in?! She was hesitant to tell us why she was sad because it made her feel embarrassed. What an awful feeling! I NEVER want my kids to feel embarrassed about their emotions! If they’re happy, I want them to smile and laugh. Angry, I want them to be able to express that too- in a way that doesn’t harm anyone or anything. If they’re sad, I want them to cry if they need to. I don’t care if it’s not “manly” for my son or a sign of weakness for my daughters. The only thing it shows me, is that they are compassionate humans.
There are 5 main stages of grief:
These steps are essential for coping. So how am I supposed to help my kids, if I don’t experience these myself?
It took months of therapy, time, and self-growth to be able to let my guard down in front of them. To show them that mommy is still mourning the incredible loss. And the truth is, thankfully, we haven’t had to deal with much of it, yet. This was just the start. But it’s the start of a lifelong journey of life, death, coping and healing.
I don’t have all the answers on “how to mourn as a mom.” Hell, I may be doing it all wrong, according to some. But in order to wake up every morning and be the best mom I know how to be, and raise the best kids I know how to raise, this is what I need to do.
If you are a parent dealing with any sort of sorrow, my advice- don’t hide it from your kids. Don’t get me wrong, I understand that different developmental ages require different explanations. If you have babies, it’s okay to cry while you’re snuggling them. If you have toddlers who say “Why are you crying, mommy?” or Daddy, what’s wrong?” Tell them that sometimes mommies and daddies get sad just like kids. For adolescents who see you hurting, explain it to them however you feel they can handle. Just don’t hide it. Don’t teach them to be ashamed of those feelings.
Really want to know my advice for how to mourn as a mama? Let yourself be human.
“In grief, the only way out of the pain is through the pain.”