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Parenting Through Loss

I was 6 years old when I lost my last grandparent. The same age as my oldest son.

I don’t remember much about the time surrounding my grandparents’ deaths. I only remember feeling very sad. I never felt deprived or unloved. My parents did their best to give me everything that I needed during that time. Especially my mom. I always remember her telling me that it’s ok to be sad. Even though I didn’t fully understand, I knew that I was safe and everything was going to be okay.

My mom did her best to help me through, all while she was experiencing tremendous stress and grief. My last two grandparents passed away within nine months of each other and they were both my mom’s parents. I only know that she was struggling through that time because now I understand how it feels to lose a parent.

Here I am, 34 years later, trying to do my best to help my children… even though I’m faced with the greatest sadness and stress of my life.

I had to say goodbye to my Dad.

My grief is compounded by the loss that my children are experiencing. My boys love their Papaw and he was so in love with them. My heart breaks and soars simultaneously when the boys talk about Papaw.

I encourage my boys to remember their favorite times with Papaw. I don’t force it and try to keep it a natural flow. If my eyes should happen to well up with tears, I reassure them that it’s only because I miss him. I want them to know that they did not make me said and it actually makes me very happy to hear them talk about Papaw.

I’m trying to be open and honest with my kids about my emotions. Sometimes my emotions come out as anger and I might snap easily. I have found myself less patient which typically leads to yelling. I really hate when that happens. Once I remove myself and calm down, I make a point to hug my boys and let them know that I am sorry. I remind them that I miss Papaw and I get upset easily. They are such sweet boys. They always respond with hugs and “I love you’s.”

That is good for my soul.

You know, as a social worker, I’m constantly on alert for atypical behavior. I know that my emotions, stress, and behaviors are affecting my children. I’m starting to notice that they are acting different. They too are having outbursts of anger, crying easily, and a little bit of regression.

In the past, when I’ve experienced extreme emotions surrounding a stressful situation, I find that educating myself allows me to make sense of the craziness. I’m reading everything that I can about grief for myself as well as for my kids.

Currently, my only educational conclusion is that I cannot effectively help my own children on my own.

I’m relying heavily on my husband, friends, and family. People want to help… and I have to be ok with asking for this help. If a friend asks if they can take the kids for awhile, I am graciously accepting the offer.

Play dates that involve me being with with my kids, their friends, and my friend, are not going so well. My kids are starving for my attention and I’m incredibly anxious. Plus, I’m usually in a deep conversation with my friend, which causes our attention to not fully be on the kids. And if you’re a parent, you know what comes next… It’s best for me to just not be there right now.

I have found that activities with my kids need to include me being active as well. Trying to play toys with my guys becomes frustrating and tiring for me. So, we go hiking or kick balls around. Walking is the best thing for me right now. And really, it’s good for all of us.

I’m struggling. The kids know that. Sometimes all I need to do is just let them know that Mommy’s having a hard time and could really use some snuggles. I know that is the best way for me to be a parent amongst grief.

My parents didn’t teach me how live. They lived. And let me watch them do it.

They did a pretty damn good job ♥️

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