Explaining the loss of a loved one to children

Recently, I lost my grandmother and last remaining grandparent at the age of 103. She would have been 104 this August. Initially, I wasn’t going to share this post, though I am not sure why. Perhaps in doing so, I have finally fully accepted that my grandmother is gone.
When my grandfather passed away 29 years ago, my grandmother assumed the role of the Matriarch and kept us together when, often times, many wanted to go their own way. With one order or action, we would do as she instructed be it individually or collectively.
When grandmother passed last month, family two (and in some cases 3) generations of descendants traveled from all over to come together to celebrate her home. Every living Child and all grandchildren but 1, were present at her service. This s the power of a Matriarch.
After receiving the news, I was consumed with emotion and unable to think straight. The head of my family had passed on. She was no longer here for me to go and see whenever I pleased, and I felt the loss.  When I got home, I was in tears and my kids greeted me with a big hug. It was exactly what I needed. Then they began to ask, “What’s Wrong?”
I sat them down on the dining table to explain. I told them I was sad because Grandma went to sleep and wasn’t going to wake up so we couldn’t go to see her anymore. “But why?”, my oldest asked. “Because she is going to be with Jesus now” I replied. This was all she needed to hear. She jumped off the table, ran to my husband with an inexplicable amount of excitement, and said “Dad! Did you hear? Grandma went to go be with Jesus! Isn’t that great?!” She was so excited that, though I was sad, her excitement made me smile. It reminded me of how I reacted with my mom when I was not much older than her and learned of my grandfather’s passing.
On the way to the service, my daughters asked me why I was sad. Finally, my oldest daughter asked, “Is it because Grandma died?” My eyes widened. I realized that she, at 4 years old, understood everything that was going on without me ever even using the words “died” or “death” in her presence. She understood that it was something that made me and the rest of the adults sad. So, seeing us sad, made them sad. This, however, was not enough to stop my kids from enjoying the abundance of family around. The joy and energy of all the great grandkids brought everyone so much joy. Even with all of the tears and long faces, the children were a great reminder of the legacy that was left behind, and that was reason enough to celebrate.
I thought that this was going to be a moment where I taught my kids about losing someone close to you, and how to cope. It turns out, they ended up teaching me. I realized that as a parent, sometimes the lesson is being taught to us instead of by us.
“Children are the best teachers for parents” – Author unknown”
The P.I. Mom

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