I'm in a very tough situation. I currently have my little 4.5 yr old cousin staying with me. Her mom passed away sometime in the middle of the evening on Friday. The daughter found her :cry::cry::cry::cry::cry:
Not sure how long she is going to be staying with me. There was no will from what I've heard and there are some interesting family dynamics. What do I say to her???? She has said a couple time "my mom is dead" but acts very non chalant about it. She knows the words but not really what they mean. She has been very happy the last two days playing with my son and not sad at all. I just don't know if I should say anything to her or just let her bring it up? So far we have told her that her mom went to heaven. Thats about it. Any advice is welcome in dealing with this sad sad situation :cry::cry::cry:
02-14-2010, 11:43 AM
I couldn't read and not post, though I have no advice, I just wanted to :hug: everyone involved. I'm so sorry!
02-14-2010, 11:54 AM
That is so tough!! (((HUGS))) to your whole family and especially to this sweet LO. When my g-ma died we told DD that g-ma went to heaven and just answered her questions as they came. And if she was sad, we let her be sad and comforted her as best as we could. I don't know what else to say... Just offer your support and love. Best wishes.
02-14-2010, 11:55 AM
I have no idea, but wanted to offer some :hugs: Maybe just follow her lead and talk about it when she brings it up, or before you both go to the funeral?
02-14-2010, 11:57 AM
I would look for resources locally & online for ways to help her deal with the death of her mother & things to come(custody, money, extended family, holidays, etc). She will always have lingering grief, not just now. And later it might get worse. You need knowledge just as much as she does.
02-14-2010, 12:51 PM
:hugs: to you all. Im so sorry!
02-14-2010, 01:50 PM
I don't know what to say - :hugs: - tho I do agree about researching and finding some resources maybe that can help? The more knowledge you can have - the better for her.
I also wanted to add, that even tho she seems fine on the outside, she might be in turmoil on the inside. Not that you should treat her any differently - it's not that. I think following her lead for the most part is fine. Here's what I'm getting at:
When I was 5 my dad died. My mom told me in the car driving home from school. (He died in the night and I was sent to a friend's house - they took me to school) I can vividly remember it. I remember the houses outside the window. I remember leaning (cowering) into the corner of the vehicle, squished up against the door, crying my eyes out. Just sobbing!!! :cry: ...... I mentioned this just recently to my mom (21 years later) and she said I never shed a tear that day in the car.
:eek: :eek: WHAT?!?!
So I guess (all I can make of that) is that how I was feeling inside was very different from how I appeared on the outside.
:hugs: to your cousin and everyone involved! :hugs:
02-14-2010, 02:02 PM
I am so sorry for your loss.
I would continue to just agree with her "Yes, your Mom passed away. She is in heaven." if you see a window . . . I might extend it "Do you want to talk to me about Mommy?" and let her, say things like "Mommy & I liked to XXXX, what did you like to do with Mommy". She might not want to - that is ok too.
Grieving for children is different. You might see it in her play, art, reactions, but not in her actual physical being. She might have a hard time later - you might see some accidents in she is PL'd or not sleeping at night. Even acting out for unapparent reasons.
Or . . . she might move on well. Children are special that way.
Best of luck - I agree with looking for a support group/play group for her & you.
02-14-2010, 02:14 PM
She might not understand the understanding of death!
My aunt was 4yrs when her mom died. They took her a priest for cousneling!
02-14-2010, 05:20 PM
Your local public library may have at least a few books, if not more, about death written specifically for children. There should also be some books that will be helpful to you as you help her, especially if you become her guardian :hugs: .
02-14-2010, 05:35 PM
Pretty sure she doesn't understand. My cousins were 12 and 6 when their mom died. They found her and woke me up. So scary. Anyway..he never acted sad. He just didn't understand whatsoever. I would just continue to tell her that her mommy is in heaven and that she loves her. Maybe further explaination will be needed later on when you figure out where she will be going and then someone can say you'll be living with so and so now instead of your mommy and explain where she is and such. Good luck!
02-14-2010, 06:12 PM
First of all hugs to your family.
My granddaddy passed away on Wed. My DS who is 3 years old has asked me a few times where is granddaddy... we had been staying at their house for the past week. Anyway I told him, he was in heaven. And that he loved him very much. and I talk about all the things they did together ie, feed the cows and play Army men togther. I also tell him how much granddaddy liked doing that with him. and how granddaddy would want him to keep doing all those things even though he's not here to do it with him.
My mother in-law has suggested we get a book by Maria Shriver, "What's Heaven?". Its for 4 yrs and up but I think it will help us. I am pretty sure she has written a few books on children and how to explain death.
your family will be in my thoughts.
02-14-2010, 06:53 PM
I understood perfectly well when my dad died. I was 9. I never cried one tear though, ever.
Everyone around me was crying and it freaked me out. I remember thinking crying wouldn't change anything, so I didn't cry. My brother also understood exactly what happened and was 6, he did cry quite a bit.
Even when my grandpa died at 5, I understood what "dead" meant. Kids tend to internalize things a bit more I think to act the way people "expect" them to- or how they think they are expected to act. But from a very young age they understand death.
02-14-2010, 07:11 PM
I have no advice for talking a one so young. My older two (then ages 9 and 11) were spending the night with their grandparents when Granddaddy died. They were old enough to understand very well what had happened. They were sad, and scared when the fire truck and ambulance came to try to revive him, but didn't cry much. Mostly they expressed concern for Grandma. :cry:
02-15-2010, 01:24 AM
From a Licensed Social Worker: "Heaven" is very abstract for a child. The more concrete you can be, the better. I'd make sure you ask her every day if she "wants to talk about Mommy?" and if she "has any questions?" but don't force it. And again, when she has questions BE CONCRETE i.e. "Mommy's body stopped working." Abstracts like "Mommy is watching from heaven" are more confusing then comforting for a child that young. If she asks "Can I talk to Mommy?" Go with "You can always pretend to talk to Mommy and I'm here if you want to talk to me." rather than "Mommy can hear you from where ever she is." Can you imagine for a 4 year old how scary it might be to think that there were people listening to you that you couldn't see?
Oh, and watch for how she plays. Ask her questions about WHY what she is playing out happens. i.e. "Why is the bunny hitting the dolly?" "What happened to make the bunny sad?" Kid's feelings OFTEN come out in play.
SO SO sorry for your loss! She is lucky girl to have someone so loving to be with during this difficult time.
02-15-2010, 05:21 AM
So sorry that you are going through this :(
Although I don't know what it is like to loose a parent, I just wanted to share what it was like for my son (when he was 3 1/2) when we lost his 16 day old sister. He was really looking forward to having a sister. He would rub my belly all the time and he would kiss it :) When Averie passed away, we told him that she had passed away one day after she did because it was christmas day. When we told him, he reacted harder then we expected. We didn't think he would understand what that meant. He freaked right out :( I still remember it to this day. He came to the funeral (we had a babysitter for him that day to watch him while we could greet, grieve and cry) It was up to him if he wanted to see her in her casket. He did eventually go and see her and give her a goodbye kiss.
I have to say that Ethan does remember Averie very much. He can tell me all about her, the days they spent together in the hospital and things you would never think that a 3 year old would remember but he does. He still cries off and on about her. He will be 7 in april.
When Averie passed away we told him that she went to heaven. We are very involved in our church so it was the best thing that we could come up with that he would understand. Since then we have had 2 very close friends that have passed away and we told him the same thing. He seemed to accept that.
We bought him a book called "we were gonna have a baby but we had an angel instead" it was very hard to read the first time to him.
Im sure that there are books out there that are for children whose parent has died.
Anyway....I just wanted to share what we did. Its such a hard subject that no one wants to go through.
02-15-2010, 06:04 AM
Many many thanks to all those who responded. I think our family will look into a local group that does a camp for kids who have lost a parent. I've tried to let her bring up mommy but not push it. I'm sure there will be more questions after the funeral. I'm just hoping the whole family can help her understand and make it all less scary. Thanks again.
02-15-2010, 01:49 PM
P.S. I didn't mean to make it seem that "heaven" is a bad concept. I'm a person of deep faith and when we tell Violet about her twin (lost at 9w1d) we will include the concept of heaven. But to simply say "Mommy went to heaven" brings up questions like "Where is that?" "Why can't I go?" "Why is her body still here then?" Heaven SHOULD CERTAINLY be a part of the equation, but does not substitute for an explanation of what death "is."
02-15-2010, 06:12 PM
So sorry :( Unfortunately, at that age, they probably won't seem THAT distraught about it. My son is 3 1/2 and my mom just passed away not even 3 months ago. She was extremely close with my son (unfortunately my daughter just turned 1 and my mom never even had her overnight yet - she was waiting till she was done BFing). Anyways, my son catches me crying once in awhile and he says "It's okay mama, we'll see gramma again when we die and go to heaven". He doesn't get sad about it. Even at the funeral, he just said it looked like she was sleeping in a box. In a way you would wish that they would feel more about it but at that age, they just don't. I'm glad that my son acknowledges it even if he's not sad sounding. I just want to make sure he remembers her forever. Once again, I am so sorry for your loss.