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questions your 3.5 yo son should not have to ask ...

(13 Posts)
AlphaSchmalpha Fri 26-Nov-10 20:30:10

tonight's bedtime chat with 3.5 yo ds involved the following questions from him:

"Mummy, why did Daddy die?"

"Mummy, what sort of box did we put Daddy in?"

"Mummy, why do we put people in the ground when they die? What happens to them? Is it all the body that goes in or do we take the bones out?" confused

"Mummy, I wish Daddy was here all day and all the time." sad

"Mummy when you and I get old and die, can we be buried with Daddy?" sad

DH died when I was pregant with ds (am not new btw, am serial namechanger). ds has never met his father. He doesn't even get to have a photo of himself with his dad.

this is so bloody crappy and hopeless and awful. I am still in pieces about losing my fabulous wonderful DH, and now ds has really started understanding his loss. And I have to cope with answering his questions which is really hard. I don't really want to think about lovely DH in a box, or revisit the funeral in my head.

BootifulBernie Fri 26-Nov-10 20:32:46

Oh, Alpha. I am so sorry for you and your son. My heart absolutely aches for you both. I cannot imagine the pain you must feel, knowing and loving your little boy, and having to now feel - and find some way to deal with - his pain, as well as your own.

I don't know what else to say, but I just wanted you to know I had read your post. x

AlphaSchmalpha Fri 26-Nov-10 20:57:20

thanks BB - just needed to get it out somewhere, always helps just to vent a bit.

Greenwing Fri 26-Nov-10 22:01:17

All my sympathy to you. I know I can't even begin to imagine how you must feel but wanted to say that, at least.

I am sure that there must be some picture books dealing with the subject. Does anybody know of one?

I suppose your son will need to talk to you about it at intervals as he grows up, as at different stages of his life he will need to deal with it emotionally and intellectually according to his stage of development. Perhaps you need some support yourself to help you with this? There are charities who help bereaved children and give advice and support, for example

Cruse also have some good advice pages eg this one about children’s understanding of death at different developmental stages. tml.

Your memories of your DH are unbelievably precious now for your son. Can you, other family members and his friends compile a book of memories and anecdotes about him? Your son would treasure it as he grows up.

I have only experienced the loss of parents, not a partner, and I do appreciate that is very, very different. However, the small similarity is that two of my children were born after their grandparents died.

I continue to mention my parents frequently, but casually, to make it normal and not a ‘big deal’ to mention their names. I do this because once, one of my children mentioned them, and another one told them to be quiet so as not to upset me. That was considerate, but I wanted my Mum and Dad to be part of the family, not an uncomfortable topic.

About dealing the actual issue of the death and burial, we are very matter of fact – the body dying is part of the circle of birth, life, death and nothing to worry about. I have explained to them that I feel that, although the person dies, they are still part of you and their love carries on and is with you every day of your life. Nothing can take it away.
We are lucky, also, that my parents went to church and so I can tell the children that they believed that there would be something after they died. I know that not everybody has that consolation but it does help us. We can go and light candles in church for them and it is a lovely way of remembering and feeling close to them.

I hope something of this is helpful, or at least my sincere sympathy and warmest good wishes for you building your own and your son’s future happiness and security.

AlphaSchmalpha Fri 26-Nov-10 22:27:35

Greenwing, what a lovely post - so much help and information. I really appreciate the time you took to reply. I am an atheist and in many ways it makes life harder as the stark reality of what I believe is a tough message to deliver to a small child. It is important to me that ds can ask me whatever he wants, whenever he wants about DH - but it is hard not to break down when he asks these really detailed or innocent or heartbreaking questions. We will get through it, as for everything else.

(Great name btw, I loved that programme!)

Greenwing Sat 27-Nov-10 17:45:25

(Thanks - Greenwing is my favourite comedy drama and Dr McCartney my hero.)

I am sure it is natural to break down at first because dealing with young DS's innocent questions must make it all so raw, and it must be horribly painful for you. However, I hope that you will eventually get through that - and probably you will need to go through that emotional 'pain barrier', in order to be able to talk to him about his Dad as he grows up. The more you do it, I would hope, the more you will get used to it, painful though it is.

I don't think this will have a bad effect on your DS if you reassure him that it doesn't matter that you cry and he shouldn't worry about it, because it is just a sign of how much you love Daddy. Hopefully, when he is older, it will be easier for you and those early conversations will be the beginning of an even closer bond of love, trust and communication between you, of which your DH will be a continuing and everlasting part.

Best wishes x

DadInsteadofMum Sun 28-Nov-10 12:01:21

Alpha have you looked at the WAY foundation, where you can meet and talk to other parents in the same situation as you. Has been a lifeline for me.

zeno Sun 28-Nov-10 14:21:11

Hi Alpha,
We're going to go through a similar thing soon with dd2. Her big sister died shortly before dd2 was born, so they never met, no pics together and so on. It's seems so extra cruel to have people you love so much who are so connected never have the opportunity to meet, to touch, to feel one another.

She 2 and a half now, so I know it won't be long till the questions start coming. She knows about her sis and we talk about her. We've tried to make it normal, but of course at some point she is going to realise that it's not normal at all to have a dead big sister. And, as you say, she will begin to realise her loss, and we will have to revisit thing's we'd rather not have to.

Sending you love and strength to get through this particular challenge.

AlphaSchmalpha Sun 28-Nov-10 17:45:07

Thanks for help and advice.

DadInsteadofMum, I will check out WAY again - I was a member in the early days but hadn't been able to make meet ups and then found I was doing ok. I will revisit.

zeno, thanks for the support.

I'm sorry for you all going through this as well.

ArsMamatoria Mon 29-Nov-10 22:56:11

Alpha, I'm sorry that things are especially hard at the moment. The questions can really throw you. I had the 'why did Daddy die' question (for the millionth time) tonight as well.

Right there with you on the atheism. It makes things especially hard when pretty much all the books out there for bereaved children allude - whether explicitly or implicitly - to some sort of afterlife. The closest I've found is Badger's Parting Gifts, but it's wrong for us in many other ways. Oh for a book that gently explains the cycle of life to a bereaved child in a non-scary, non-religious way.

And despite the awfulness of the questions and how indescribably shitty and horrible it is for both of you to have to deal with asking and answering them, they are the questions of a bright and thoughtful little boy who feels secure and comfortable enough in his mother to be able to ask them. That means you are doing a pretty amazing job in my book.

ja9 Mon 29-Nov-10 22:58:00

Alpha, i'm so sorry.

I have nothing useful to say i'm afraid...

except i'll pray for you and your son. Really sad situation.


AlphaSchmalpha Mon 29-Nov-10 23:38:22

Hi Ars (tis GoingPostal here) thanks as always for your support. You are amazing too you know.

At least I know I am not alone in this and that one day ds will be able to talk to other children who have the same situation. Which is good. Well, not really. You know what I mean. I'd rather no-one else in the world had to go through this, but it's a huge comfort when you do realise you are not the only one dealing with a very specific set of circumstances.

PS Saw tunnocks at the weekend and passed on your love & best wishes.

DadInsteadofMum Tue 30-Nov-10 10:17:06

I very rarely go to local WAY events, it is the being able to talk in the chat room to others in the same situation that I find so valuable.

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