Grief is a tricky thing, sometimes it feels as though it has gone away or faded somewhat, but then it creeps back into your life and smacks you in the face. There are times where all I want is him - to go back to the way it was - but I know it can't be that way again. I am able to understand the reality of our situation, but my kids cannot. I remember the day that my love was killed, and Tyson began crying with me when I told them the news. He was only 4, but able to understand so much more than I had ever imagined he would have been able to. Zachary was only 2, so he just followed us and began crying, but didn't really know why. Over the last 18 months, my family has experienced many different feelings associated with grief, but there are a few things in particular that I have experienced that always stand out in my mind. I've chosen one recent experience from each child that I will cover; today is Tyson's turn!
Tyson - My biggest boy, the "daddy" as my love told him to be before he left for his last deployment. He has a heavy load on his shoulders and sometimes asks if he's the father of the family now. It is confusing for him, but he takes pride in wanting to be like his Hero. The month of January was a hard month for our family; I'm not exactly sure why as there are no significant dates regarding our relationship or family in that month, but grief hit all of us very hard last month. I needed to watch videos, look at pictures, listen to voice mails, smell his scent, be around anything that reminded me of him. The boys would want to see as well, but one time it hit Tyson a little harder than the rest of us. He ran up to his room and buried his head in his mattress and just cried. I climbed up the ladder and began asking him why he was crying. He sat up and looked at me with tears in those big, beautiful eyes and said "It's my fault he died!" He went on to tell me that because he liked the Marines so much, that is why daddy stayed in the Marine Corps and went to Afghanistan and died. It broke my heart to think that he felt as though it was HIS fault that this happened. I cried with him and told him that it was not his fault, and that God needed him in heaven. After a few minutes of crying together, we got our acts together and continued on with our day. It's amazing what a good, occasional cry can do for a soul! Below are bullets of what exactly we faced and how I handled it.
- I reassured him that it was not his fault, and gave Biblical reasons why it was not true.
- I cried with him - It's ok to show emotion in front of our children, they need to know that it's ok to be sad sometimes! But, they also need to know that it's ok to be happy and experience life without their loved one still around.
- We pulled ourselves together and went on with the day. I always like to give a little perspective when dealing with a situation. I bring it down to their level and tell them how fortunate we are to be taken care of the way we are and that mommy can still be at home with him, he has food to eat, a great family and church, and a wonderful school.
- Distraction - I like to do something fun with them after we experience some tough grief. Whether it's a craft, cuddling, having a snack together, or whatever else it may be, they like feeling and knowing that they are special and important.
- I LOVE YOU - I am reminded to always tell them I love them, even if I'm upset with them. You never know what can happen and how fast things can change. You can't wrap them in your arms and tell them that you love them too much, ever.