There are some things in life which are truly inevitable. And, like the saying goes, death and taxes fall high on that list of things we all must face. But when it comes to the loss of a loved one, it’s especially hard when our parents pass away when we are parents ourselves. We are clearly sad, and often we feel guilty for grieving in front of our children. Or maybe that’s just me.
For myself, my father passed away when I was only 23 years of age. It was years before I had children of my own, and also a few years before I met the man that I would marry. I was given the luxury of grieving on my own terms in peace. Of course I wish my father could have met my husband and children, but that’s just not what life had planned for me. But my mother? She passed away when my oldest two children were three-and-a-half and two-and-a-half years old. And I was five months pregnant with my last child at the time.
The day after we had her funeral, I found out I was having a son.
I’d always wanted to have a son, as I’m a tomboy myself. Also, I always looked at the way my mother was so closely bonded with my younger brother, and I wanted to experience that for myself someday. My husband and I will always believe she sent him to us. He is a truly magical little boy who lights up our world. I can only imagine how dearly she would have loved him.
My mother and I had many struggles in the years we spent together. Some her fault, some mine. But when I became a mother myself, just 13 days before I turned 27, those three-and-a-half years we had together with her as a grandmother to my children were honestly three-and-a-half years of my life I will cherish as long as I live.
She was simply wonderful. And my kids absolutely adored her.
I remember my mom telling me once how she felt bad for not being there for me when I was young. But it wasn’t her fault, and I didn’t blame her for it. She was a single mom who wasn’t getting a dime in child support. And she had to do what she had to do to put a roof over our heads. My mother wasn’t one to give apologies, so this really meant a lot to me. Because if the words “I’m sorry“ ever came from her lips, I knew for certain that she meant it.
Remember the happy times when dealing with the loss of a grandparent.
When your children are dealing with the loss of a grandparent, the number one thing that I feel is most important is to not forget the happy times that everyone shared together. And definitely preserve their memory. Pay attention to the little things that your children do that remind them of their grandparent.
My middle daughter is not only very physically similar to my late mother, but she has her fiery spirit, too. And it’s one of the things that I adore about her the most. It’s as if I get a chance to see my mother every single day because I see her in Daisy, my daughter.
When any of my children does something that reminds me of my mother, or even my father for that matter, I always tell them.
It’s special to see the gleam in their eyes when I tell them that they do something like “Gaga”or my father did. My son looks very much like my late father, and I know how much my sisters enjoy seeing photos of him on a regular basis. So, I always text my sisters pictures of my son, too.
I’ve learned that when people pass, it’s our duty to honor their memory by growing closer and not apart. For me, it’s helped me to heal.
Keep reminders to help preserve their memory when dealing with the loss of a grandparent.
When my mother passed, it was certainly hardest on my oldest daughter, as she had spent so much time with her on a routine basis. Unfortunately, she didn’t get to have much time with her in the last six months of my mother’s life, because my mother was diagnosed with terminal cancer. And my mom was in extremely poor shape from rounds of chemo and from the cancer taking a severe toll on her already tiny frame.
For my oldest daughter, I gifted her some items of my mother’s that she keeps in her room.
This way, she can have a little part of my mother with her whenever she spends time in her room. Also, she doesn’t know this, but I have a necklace made for her with my mother’s thumbprint, and it’s engraved on the back. I plan to gift it to her when she turns 16, as I feel that’s an appropriate age responsibility-wise.
My mother was cremated, and we have her urn here at my home. I also have a cremation rose necklace of her. When we travel, I typically wear it because I feel it will grant us safe passage. I keep her urn in my office with me, and that way it’s like she’s with me all the time. Now, this might be a bit macabre for some. But I’m a chick who wears all black usually, so this sort of thing isn’t “creepy” to me. To each their own, but the bottom line is this: Just because your parent and your kid’s grandparent is gone from this Earth does NOT mean they should be gone from your life, too.
Take the time you need to deal with your grief, but be sure you slowly start bringing them back into your life.
Because if you don’t preserve their memory and cherish it, your children who are dealing with the loss of a grandparent at a young age will slowly forget them.
When dealing with the loss of your child’s grandparent, remember you’re dealing with major loss, too.
In the first year after my mother passed away, there was lots of crying. I honestly feel incredibly lucky to have been pregnant for the last five months of her life, because it brought us all so much joy during such a dark and depressing time. My mother was such a people person who was incredibly charismatic. She would gift you the shirt off your back if you needed it. We are very different in that sense, as I’m basically a human cat and a homebody that doesn’t really like being around people. (I’m a writer, so no shock there, right?!)
There would be times when we would be driving and my daughter would randomly start crying. I would ask her what was wrong, and she would tell me that she missed Gaga each time. So I started a game with her. You know, something moms will do on the fly to cheer their kids up when needed. I said to her, “I bet that means that she’s thinking of you.”
Immediately this transformed sadness to hopefulness.
She loved the idea that my mother, an angel, could be thinking of her. So, now we do that together. Even five-and-a-half years later. I’ve learned firsthand that it is completely okay to allow your children to share in your grief. And, if anything, it’s cathartic and strengthens your bond even more.
You see, the love never ends unless you let it. Please, whatever you do, don’t allow your child to forget their grandparent.
You don’t have to talk about them every single day. But it’s good for them to remember that person who adored them more than anything in the world. I can only hope that someday, when my time comes to be a grandparent, I’m half as amazing as my mother was. She will forever remain an inspiration to me for the ways she selfishly and unapologetically loved my children who were the light of her life.
If you are currently dealing with the loss of a parent—your child’s grandparent—I hope this post brought you a little hope. Things will get better, and know that time is always the best medicine to heal a broken heart.