Friday, November 14, 2008

How to help your kids mourn the loss of family

How to help your kids mourn the loss of family

My older daughter was almost five when I gave birth to my terminally ill son. Throughout my pregnancy, we have been very open about this pregnancy. We read books and she spoke to the baby she was convinced was her little brother. She even chose him a name.

Little did we know that he was a very sick baby. We were told that he was going to die the evening he was born. I arranged for my pastor's wife to bring her and her younger sister to come to the hospital. During the twenty minutes car ride, my pastor's wife explained to her that her baby brother was very sick and would go to Jesus very soon.

When she came to the intensive care ward to see me and the baby, she was very calm and just said that baby was going to Jesus. I asked her if she still wanted to call him the name she had chosen, she said yes. She was happy to touch him and later cuddle him. When she went home, she kissed him good night, and said "see you in heaven."

Baby didn't die that night, he survived for almost two months. I was in the hospital, and she came to the hospital creche, and we had lunch at the cafeteria. We spent time with the baby. One of the most touching thing she did was draw a family picture with baby up in the sky with wings. She explained to me that baby was an angel. I cried.

Every often she would make a picture and give it to her baby brother. Some kind ladies had knitted lots of little toys and the charge nurse asked her to chose one for herself, her sister and her baby brother. She did this, and then asked if she could give one to all the sick babies. We buried the toy with her brother, and to this day, ( twenty years later) she still remembers this.

The night baby died, I came home. She wouldn't go to sleep and bawled her eyes out. She screamed why we didn't bring baby home. If we had brought him home, he wouldn't have died. My husband and I held her tightly and explained to her that baby was very sick. He would have died even if we brought him home.

For his funeral, I made a big bouquet of flowers, she made a little posy of flowers. It turned out with his little coffin, my bouquet was too big to put on top of it. Her posy was just right. She never forgot this.

She went back to kindergarten, and she explained to her teachers that her baby brother had gone to Jesus. We had previously informed the teachers about his sickness so they would be aware of our sad scenario. The teachers were very good and caring to her.

I told her any time she wanted to visit his grave, I would go with her. We went to the garden and pick flowers when we went.

The key to helping your kids is communications. If you have a Christian faith, it is easier. A child has the innocence and will accept death easier when he/she thinks about going to Jesus.

*** Our Andrew had Campomelic Dysplasia. He died nineteen years ago on the 22nd of this month.

*** I have a 5 year old student whose father died suddenly. I have been talking to his mum, comforting her telling her that her little D is about the same age when D lost her baby brother. I was able to tell her how her teachers helped her in her grief by writing in a journal.

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