Dealing with death is seldom easy for anyone. It can be especially hard for children to understand. Or so I thought! Last week, I was up mentally and emotionally preparing myself to say goodbye to my grandpa. He had been in the hospital with pneumonia several times, but this time he seemed to not be able to kick it and come off the ventilator. Sometime around 2 am on Wednesday, September 5th, he passed away while the song “I’ll Fly Away” played on the radio. My granny, my mom, and my stepdad were there to see him off.
Now, I had already told my girls, who are four and eight years old, that Sam [which is what we called my grandpa] was sick and in the hospital. The next day I prepared myself to tell them that he had passed. I actually Googled it so I had the right words and didn’t get into too much. I found a very helpful article on babycenter.com that gave me some great tips and verbiage. There were actually two articles that I came across on their site that broke it down by age groups: preschoolers and school-age. I sat them both down and told them that Sam had died. My oldest’s response was, “Awe…..can I have a snack?” My youngest wanted to know, “Who is Granny gonna have now?” (She meant who would live with Granny.) I told her that Granny has Scooter, her dog, that we would visit, and that Granny has friends too. And that was it. There were no questions after that. They handled that part well. I decided not to take them to the funeral home because I didn’t think the youngest would handle it well. My husband stayed home with them while I went.
The next day was the graveside service and we took them with us. It wasn’t graveside actually… it was a service held in the mausoleum. On the way there, I explained what they would see. I told them about the casket being kind of like a big pretty box and that Sam was in that box but they wouldn’t see him. I told them about the pallbearers and how they would roll the casket in the room, and someone would say a prayer and talk about Sam a little, and then they would pray again. I also told them that they may see Granny and other people crying, and that was ok because Granny was sad. We arrived at the graveyard and started walking towards the mausoleum. They were getting ready to pull the casket out of the hearse. We stopped while they finished that part. My husband was holding our oldest daughter’s hand and he said that she squeezed his hand at that point. He was worried about them getting upset during the service. He loves his girls more than anything! We proceeded down to the family and stood outside while they prepared for the last viewing. After that was done, we were led into the room. The girls sat quietly. My youngest checked out all of the flowers that were on the walls and was amazed at how they got them all up so high. While walking out, she looked up at me with her beautiful blue eyes and said, “I’m sure gonna miss Sam.” I lost it there for a minute!
The rest of the day was filled with laughter and memories! The girls know that Sam is in Heaven and have dealt with it well.