Monday, October 24, 2016

Dealing with loss- a 9 year old's perspective

JED lost their great granddad last week. The twins, in particular were close to him because they grew up living in the same house as he did. There's something to be said about living in a multi-generational house.

Anyway, he passed, at a ripe old age of 100. We knew it was soon because he wasn't doing so well and had done our best to prepare JED. Even then, when we found out that he had passed on, telling them was still going to be no easy feat. For good or for bad, Grandma broke the news to them before we managed to.

Jordan was inconsolable. Evan was very take charge. He took it upon himself to ring myself and Packrat to let us know. He also let us know that Jordan was distraught about it. Muffin was confused because he didn't have as many memories about Tai Gong as the twins did and he couldn't understand why he wasn't as upset as they were.

It took some time for us to talk Jordan through her despair. And what perhaps helped them all process it was for them to write cards to Tai Gong to place before the casket. We also got them to share their best memories of Tai Gong.

Jordan: Going into his room and taking his hymnal and singing with him.

Evan: Stealing butter cookies from his cookie tin (the traditional round tin of butter cookies)

Muffin: The stuffed tiger that taught him to roar loud.

Allowing them to talk about Tai Gong seemed to help. So did bringing them to the wake. When there weren't many people about in the afternoon, we brought them over and allowed them to say goodbye and place their flowers and cards.

We didn't stop them from crying. Some of the elders tried to console them by telling them not to cry since Tai Gong was in a better place and had gone to heaven but we told them they could cry and it was okay to be sad. Because we didn't hide how sad we were to have lost him, we told them they didn't have to either.

By the end of the funeral, everyone was emotionally spent but I think we were all calm and at peace with Tai Gong's passing. And while I thought we were done processing our grief, I found a letter Jordan had written to a friend, two days ago. The passing of a friend's cat had triggered reminders of all the deaths she's had to see through this year and that's when I realised that in their own little ways, they were still coming to terms with Tai Gong's passing.

He had no longer been part of our daily lives but I think he was always at the back our minds. And even though the twins had memories of him, it didn't seem enough to make up for the fact that he wasn't physically present anymore. So slowly, they have to work through it and as parents, we are just there to answer their many questions and hold them tight when it gets too much.

 But in the little things that they have said and done since Tai Gong's passing, they're also showing themselves to be little grown up beings in more ways than one. And I'm pretty sure, Tai Gong had a little bit to do with that too.


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