Death is one of those things that is inevitable and I learned a lot about at an early age. I had a lot of older family members die pretty close together as a child in a sad season of life. It wasn’t easy as a child but it made death familiar and it made me able to “handle” and “accept it”. As an adult, I lost my uncle and grandmother. One I sobbed like no tomorrow and the other I was at peace because I was by my grand mother’s side when she passed. I was sad but knew heee suffering was over and that allowed me to be at peace.
I have put off this post for over a month and I have tried to write it several times. Every time I started (and even finished) writing it, so many tears were shed and I didn’t think it adequately expressed how I felt and am feeling about my husband’s nana’s death but I told myself that I would do my best to just share from my heart.
When we got married over 4 years ago, we wrote part of our vows and had some of the traditional as well. The “through sickness and health” part is obviously a sadder part and I always considered it to be just between the two of us. But it’s more than that as recent events have shown.
My mother told me when I was younger “when you marry someone, you marry their family too”. I always thought it was silly but as the idea of marriage entered our relationship, it became more true and I love my husband’s family and am thankful they are my inlaws. When nana got sick in December, my gut told me that she wouldn’t be with us much longer. I started to cherish the time we had together more and try and bring the kids to see her as much as we could. I also shifted my focus to how I would handle death as a wife and mother, two uncharted territories for me.
How death is portrayed to my children is very important to me and scary that I would mess up and it be traumatizing for them. More so Bear because he is older. I knew I wanted him to be exposed and to allow him to grieve because he and nana had a relationship but I didn’t want him to be too scared. And being a support for my husband was important to. He’s not a huge expresser of emotions even though he’s come a long way since the time we’ve met.
We told Bear together than nana had died and gone to heaven and that we wouldn’t see her anymore but that he could talk to her anytime he wanted to and it was okay to be sad and miss her. He took it okay initially. I think he knew something was different and up because we no longer saw her at home and went to visit her in the nursing home. One of the last times he saw her he said, “Mama, I want to see old nana at home.” He stayed with a friend for the wake and was with us for the funeral. I think it was a nice balance and important for him to be with us for the day. To see us all together even though sad and for him to say good-bye to her. It was a hard day that when I think of makes me cry but I was so proud of him and how well he and Bree behaved through it all and handled what was going on. Kids are resilient and they are a beautiful reminder of the circle of life during times of sadness.
He has expressed missing her at times and tonight at bedtime he told me he missed her. I told him it was okay to miss her and she was in heaven and that she loves him very much and was watching over him everyday. He said he wanted to go to heaven to see her 😭 I told him he could see her in heaven when he was very,very old (God willing ❤) and that we can talk about her and remember times we had together when we missed her. Insert free flowing tears.
Such a hard concept to understand and so sad. I just pray that I am able to continue to make his knowledge and understanding about death healthy and that he does not become fearful. Having these conversations are hard and takes my relationship with both Bear and my husband to a different dynamic but it’s part of life. Not something that I really ever thought of when I became a wife and a mother. I know this won’t be the last time I navigate tough uncharted territories like that and I feel our little family grew closer in these sad moments.