Friday, June 3, 2016

Lessons of Death

This past Monday we loaded up the banged up van and observed Memorial day by visiting some graves in the area. One of the first stops we made were to two people my family were close with who died in a head on collision earlier this year. Both Mike and Mary were friends of mine and I spent lots of time over the last four years I've live here in their presence. Mary worked at my daughter's school and taught religious education to her as well as just always being really friendly with her. My daughter was an alter server at their funeral but due to school, didn't get a chance to ever go out to the burial. I don't think she ever had time to grieve. My daughter picked out some flowers to decorate their graves and when we pulled up to it and walked over, she broke down and started sobbing.

I'm sure those of you are parents know, there is nothing worse than hearing your child sob in real grief. It is hard to hear because our natural instinct it to protect them from hurt. In this case however, I knew what she needed was understanding so I just put a hand on her shoulder and hugged her close to me and let her morn her loss. It was therapeutic for both of us. After saying a prayer, we moved on to another cemetery and other people that we had loved in life.

For the most part, I have been fortunate when it comes to death. My then living great grandparents died when I was 2, 11 and 15 years of age and for the most part I was too young to really know what I had missed. My grandparents are all still alive, at least the ones I knew. My biological father's father, died when I was in high school but I hadn't seen him since I was five years old so really didn't know him. And of course, my parents are still going strong. I myself and no longer a young chicken and if one were betting have lived more of my life than what remains ahead. My time of loss is coming because that is the cycle of life. I hope that like my oldest daughter on this past Memorial Day, I will be able to grieve properly when the time comes. I learned that lesson thanks to my daughter.


sage said...

It is tough to watch a child in grief and you're right, there is nothing we can do but let them grieve and be present with them. My first death experience was at 7, when my great-grandmother died (we had lived close to her before moving from Moore County when I was 6)

Kelly said...

Everyone grieves in different ways and I'm glad you supported her the way you did rather than just delivering some platitude. (at least that's my opinion)

My first loss was my father's death when I was 11. My mother died when I was 17. Totally different experiences, but both taught me a lot about death in relation to myself and others. And despite many more deaths over the years (grandmothers, aunts, uncles, cousins, even contemporaries), nothing prepared me for the death of a sibling. I'm still grieving for my sister.

Leigh said...

I think that one thing that makes it difficult is that grieving is something we can't teach to our children. There are no preliminary lessons, no rehearsal, it just presents itself unbidden. I think you did just the right thing for your daughter.

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Bob said...

Even though it's hard to experience and especially hard to watch someone you love experience it, God obviously created within us the ability -- if not the need -- to grieve. And it's a wise parent who will not try to shield a child from it.