Thursday, August 15, 2013

A 7 Year Old's Grief

I hate being faced with what to do with Caleb and Hannah regarding Joshua's life.

When Joshua was alive, Caleb was only 4 and Hannah was 2. Hannah doesn't really remember him at all, but Caleb does.

I know for a fact that Caleb has been touched and changed by Joshua. If not by his life directly, then by the way that he saw and continues to see Shane and I grieve. He has a very tender heart and an emotional maturity that only hardship and loss can bring.

I love him for how gentle and loving he can be. But at the same time, I grieve for what he has been through.

Tonight, I was faced with the decision of telling them about Joshua's birthday tomorrow. Caleb is 7 now, and Hannah is 5. They are old enough to understand what that means- a birthday without the birthday boy. Their relationship with Lukey is one of the most tender and loving relationships I have ever seen. Sometimes I see Caleb interacting with Luke and I can see in his face that he is thinking about Joshua and what it would be like to be a big brother to him. That kills me.

Caleb especially understands how difficult it is to face Joshua's birthday.

So, as I was putting them to bed tonight, I was faced with the decision to tell them- knowing full well that they will grieve and be sad, or not tell them and save them the grief.

Of course I told them. It's not fair to them to not be included in his life and his milestones- even if they aren't the milestones we expected for Joshua's life.

I tried to keep it as matter of fact as I could. I tried to just simply tell them that it was Joshua's birthday without tears or emotion. I didn't want them feeding off of my emotions  which would result in all 3 of us crying and carrying on together.

It has been my goal to never force my grief and sadness on them or make them take on my emotions.

But, no matter how hard I try, Caleb's reaction kills me every time.

He broke down. He sobbed and asked for all of his things that were Joshua's- Joshua's blanket from the NICU, his Joshie Doll, and the bunny rabbit that the funeral home gave to him to keep Joshua's picture in. I gathered all of those things and sat on his bed and held him as he cried and cried and cried.

It's one thing to carry the burden of grief myself. It's another to watch your children carry that burden. There is nothing worse than watching your children grieve for a brother they never knew.

This is the kind of stuff that makes me sick to my stomach. It makes me want to vomit. I hate the fact that my children have to deal with the sadness that I deal with. It makes me sad to see them anxious about what could happen to them- knowing that we are all all susceptible to death.

I'm not sure how I will get through tomorrow. A birthday without the birthday boy is unimaginable to me- even though I've done it 2 times before. It just doesn't get easier.


Amy said...

I was wondering... have you ever thought about getting counseling for Caleb at a center for grieving children? Those places are amazing! We have one in our area. I looked it up and I'm not sure how far you are from Ft. Wayne, but they have Erins House ( ). Might be worth checking into.
Love you, sweet Jill. Without even reading this, I remembered Joshua's birthday is tomorrow <3

Mary White said...

I am so sorry for your loss. Happy Birthday, Joshua.

SMHoitsma said...

This brought me to tears. I'm sorry you're all going through this and it is really hard on Caleb to deal with Joshua's birthday without him being there for it. Would it help if Caleb saw a counselor to talk to someone about his feelings? Praying for you all.

Jessica said...

praying for you guys.

Auntie M said...

Oh sweet Caleb...that picture of him holding his little brother when you brought him home from the hospital tore at my guts...this has gutted me completely.

Praying for you all.

Cathy Reich said...

Praying for all of you today ... that God will hold you especially close in his tender and loving arms, all day long.

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