The loss of a loved one is never easy. Especially for kids. Kids don’t always know how to show or explain how they are feeling about grieving or sorrow. It could be behavior changes that you notice, it could be visible sadness, it could be laughter, really, anything. That’s how I observed (and still observing) my kids dealing with the loss of their grandfather (my father).
The kids called him Grandpa G., I called him Dad, friends & family called him Gary or just “G”.
Dad lost his battle with cancer on November 9, 2011. His official diagnosis of esophageal cancer was only a couple of weeks earlier. The cancer took over his body and he didn’t stand a chance. For more information about this, visit, http://garymelchi.com.
We sat the kids down at home and told them we had something to discuss with them. Sam immediately said “Did G die?” We said, “Yes Sam, Grandpa G. is in heaven now.”. Sam didn’t react in the way you’d expect. He had a somber look on his face for a moment, but then gave me a big hug and went about his normal routine of playing with toys. He was having fun and laughing minutes after the news. Lizzy was just listening and didn’t say much about the news.
As the days progress, we’re noticing small behaviors that lead us to believe that Sam was really affected by Grandpa G’s passing. Sam wears Grandpa’s Colts hat pretty much whenever he is at home. Grandpa’s Colt’s jersey is in Sam’s bed. When Sam leaves the house, he takes the Colts hat off and puts on Grandpa’s racing ball-cap. There have been a few days at school where Sam has acted out. In talking with his teacher, Sam’s behavior at school has been good, with the exception of a couple of days. In talking to Sam about his behavior at school, he told me he was just sad and didn’t really know what he was doing. We talked about why he’s sad and worked through why Grandpa is in heaven now. I think he understands what happened as best we can explain it to a 5-year-old without getting into the actual cancer details.
One of the things Grandpa G. left behind was an older, small-sized pick-up truck. Sam and Lizzy have always loved this truck. They love driving around in the truck. Sam requests to be dropped off/picked up from school in the truck. The truck isn’t in the best shape and has it’s share of mechanical issues, but none of that matters to the kids. It’s G’s little red truck!
The morning after the funeral services, Sam grabbed a DVD copy of the photo slideshow, popped it in and was watching it for about an hour by himself. He was curled up on the couch, under a blanket, watching the photos fly by and listening to the music I put on the slideshow. The music was original music my dad made in the 70′s and 80′s. It was the cutest thing to see, very touching. He was mad when we had to turn it off to start our day.
It’s currently November 23, 2011 and it’s been almost 2 weeks since Grandpa G. passed and it seems like the kids are dealing with the loss better and better each day. Over the last couple years, Sam and Dad grew very close. I have no doubt that Sam will remember Grandpa G. in all his hilarious details. I think Lizzy will remember him being really funny and having fun with him, but probably not to the extent that Sam will. She’s still pretty young. Luckily, we took lots of photos and many videos to help both kids remember their grandpa better.