On grief and sadness, and having that talk

From the moment my children entered this world there has been nothing more important to me as a mother than to keep them safe. That saying from Elizabeth Stone that says “making the decision to have a baby is momentous, it is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body” is so very true and resonates with me daily. In the world we live in today there are so many dangers and you really have to just trust your faith to keep your children safe.

I’ve tried to keep my children protected from the concept of death, believing it best to not expose them to the harsh realities of the frailty of life until it was necessary to do so. We have been fortunate as a family not to suffer any direct losses within our close circle, and so I haven’t had to shatter my daughter’s innocence about the insect being ‘asleep.’ I still remember the day I overheard my mom telling Amy that an insect had died, I was shocked to hear her say this to my little girl, but realised my protection could only last for so long.

This past weekend the gentleman who tends to the gardens at Amy’s school passed away unexpectedly. He was someone that Amy knew, who she spoke of as being a kind man who helped the kids at the school, specifically after he was highlighted at Helper’s Day recently.  Tomorrow the whole school will gather to plant a tree in his memory and say a prayer to remember him and his family. The school has encouraged us to talk to our children beforehand if we choose to.

It’s been weighing heavy on my heart since I heard the sad news. He was a friendly soul who I often encountered while collecting art for Amy in the afternoons. He was a part of our children’s lives, and now he is gone, and I’m left wondering if I should discuss the concept of death with her. She seems so small still at the age of three, and my instinct is to protect her. But I also don’t want her caught off guard tomorrow at the ceremony, confused and without her mom there to wrap her so tight in a safe hug.

Tonight, my heart is sore. The world is a tough place and we can’t protect our children from grief and sadness forever, even though we want to. Have you had a discussion about death with your children?

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