October 22nd, 2013 01:34pm

Losing a loved one


Ever since I was a little girl, I’ve known that my grandma faced many health issues. Despite her waning eye sight, recurring strokes and battle with severe diabetes, she always had a smile on her face and hugs and kisses for her grandchildren and great grandchildren. My 7-year-old daughter had a special connection with her great grandmother, a connection that I know she will forever hold dear in her heart, even though her Memaw is now in Heaven.

About seven months ago, after learning that my grandmother’s health was beginning to rapidly decline, my husband and I often reminded our daughter that Memaw’s body was getting very old and very tired. Each time we visited with her, we could see the changes. We knew that we would soon have to talk to our innocent little girl about losing a loved one, something she had yet to experience. As a matter of fact, it was something I had yet to experience. This process would be uncharted territory for us both.

On Thursday, Oct. 10, I got the call that we were down to only a few hours, maybe a day, with Memaw here on Earth with us. When I told my daughter the news, as gently as I possibly could, her reaction brought me to tears. Through her cries she told me that she was most sad that she’d never see her Memaw again. I knew, right at that moment, that I needed to throw together a suitcase, race out of town, and get my daughter to the Hospice center where my grandma had just been admitted.

After a three-hour drive, we walked into the room. What I saw and what my daughter saw were very different. I saw a woman who looked so thin and frail, unable to open her eyes or utter a word. My daughter just saw her Memaw. She gently spoke to her, rubbed her hand, and gave her a hug.

In the early morning hours of Oct. 12, my grandmother passed away. My daughter accepted her passing, taking comfort in the fact that she was no longer in pain. But now my husband and I were faced with more decisions. Should she be present at the viewing? Should we let her attend the service?

My sweet Aubrey, so wise beyond her years and such a sensitive soul, decided that she wanted to attend the viewing and graveside service. She decided she wanted to touch her Mewaw one last time. And she decided that she wanted to bring a single rose and sweet handwritten note to lie on top of the casket. She was making all the decisions for us. I was so proud to watch my amazing daughter go through her own grieving process with such compassion and maturity. My worries about having to guide my daughter through losing a loved one faded away as my daughter and I walked alongside one another each step of the way.

How did you help your child when faced with losing a loved one?

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