Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Me Too

I don't talk much about religion on the good ol' blog. Mainly because it can be one of those divisive topics. I don't want to risk offending anyone and I also don't like it when the comment section blows up (which, fortunately, doesn't happen here very often).

So, to put it as simply as possible, we are Christians. We attend church on a semi-regular basis. I am part of a "growth group" through our church, which started last February. The moms and toddlers in that group have started to feel like family. Each of the lovely women in that group brought meals and offered childcare when Emma was born. I find church and my faith to be very comforting, especially during challenging times.

We pray with Will every night and have told him the Christmas Story. He loves nativities. I have a gorgeous nativity on our mantle and he will randomly run up to it and yell out, "Thank you, Jesus, for my family!"

The morning after Jack died, M and I were still in shock and I hadn't (gasp) done my usual research on what to say to Will if he asked where Jack was. We held our breath as Will came downstairs in the morning. Jack was very attached to him and followed him around to the very end, so we were expecting him to ask where his "shadow" was. To our suprise (and, frankly, relief) he didn't. He didn't ask all morning.

During his naptime, I finally got a chance to sit down and find out the appropriate things to say (and, possibly more importantly, what not to say) when discussing death with a toddler. It turns out that there aren't any hard and fast rules, but there were some very helpful suggestions. After nap, it finally happened. Will asked where Jack was.

M held him on his lap and I sat next to him and held his hand. We told him that Jack had died and that mean that he couldn't run, play, or bark anymore and that he wouldn't be coming home. We told him that Jack was with Jesus in heaven and although he missed us very much, he was very happy there. We told him that it was okay for him to be sad, to cry, to ask us any questions.

He seemed "okay" with this. He went off to play and we felt relieved that it was over. Fortunately, the websites also prepared us for the fact that toddlers will most likely ask for the missing loved one many, many times, as they really cannot grasp the finality of death. He didn't ask about Jack again until the next morning when we came downstairs and he asked me if Jesus was bringing Jack home today. It broke my heart to remind him that Jack can't ever come home. He sadly told me that he missed Jack and I told him that I missed him, too. He asked about a dozen more times that day if Jack was coming home.

My parents arrived Sunday and provided a welcome distraction (remember, they bring four dogs with them). Last night, my mom and I took Will for a Christmas Light Drive. We found a beautiful nativity scene and as we oohed and ahhed over it and pointed out Baby Jesus, Will all of a sudden got upset. It took me a minute to figure out that he was upset because he could see Baby Jesus, but Jack wasn't with him. I didn't exactly know how to explain that one. I told him that this wasn't the "real" Baby Jesus, that it was just a statue (he knows what statues are) and that the "real" Jesus lives in Heaven and that's where Jack is. He seemed to get it, but then he said, very sadly, "I wish Jack was here still, Mommy."

Me too, buddy. Me too.


Ms. J said...

heartbreaking :(

we have explained to LP that when a person is so, so, so, SO sick that doctors can not make them feel better, Jesus lets the person come live with Him in Heaven, where they are healthy & restored again. We also say hospitals are where people go to get healthy, so she doesn't associate them will illness (remember, she had open heart surgery, so we had to frame them as good places).

I've heard people use the phrase "Rainbow Bridge" when dogs pass away .. Maybe goo.g.le and see if it helps?


Rebecca said...

I'm crying over this...poor kid...poor you for having to tell him this bad news over and over again. I love what you told him. I love that he remembered it. It's good that you have family in your house right now.

I read what Ms. J said above and there is a rainbow light for children's rooms at Let me know if you are going this route, I'll forward you the link.

cgd said...

Your little guy breaks my heart, but it sounds like you dealt with that very well. Sending love to you and your family this holiday season....

HereWeGoAJen said...

Aw, what a very sweet boy. I think your explanations were perfect.

A New Beginning said...

You just made me cry. I guess we all have to go through this at some point in time.

Thanks for putting this out here.