Marme and E and WC

I love you to the moon and back again…

Helping E grieve

on August 13, 2017


Last month was the first time that E and WC experienced death–up close and personal. Of course, WC had no idea what was happening. He just knew everyone was crying.

E on the other hand, understood. His Uncle Rick had died unexpectedly and his Mom and Marme couldn’t stop crying. There we sat in the middle of Newbury street in Boston hugging one another and falling apart while E stood by and watched. Then, he started crying. At first we thought it was just sympathy tears. But as the hours and days progressed, we realized he was grieving too. He said, “Why won’t anyone hug me?” It broke our hearts.

Before heading home to be with family, my daughter tried to explain to E that his Pop Pop was going to be very sad. Uncle Rick was his brother. We also explained to him that he needed to be aware of it and give him a hug when we arrived. I knew he would comply and sure enough, when he saw his Pop Pop, he gave him a huge hug.

The next few days were hard on all of us. E cried often, as did his mother. His Pop Pop was trying valiantly to hold it together for his brother’s family. E talked about his Uncle Rick and how he wished he didn’t die.

At the celebration of life, E’s Pop Pop started tearing up. Without any coaxing, he went up to him and hugged him and held him tight for awhile. They both stood there, hugging one another. That hug probably did more to heal their hearts than any words any of us could ever say.

At the end of the celebration, everyone wrote a message to Uncle Rick on a notecard. E spent a long time writing that message. He said he wanted to make his Uncle proud of him; he was going to get his black belt in karate and think of him every time he practiced. He wrote this himself and put it in the jar. It was his way of saying goodbye. His way of expressing his grief.

When someone dies in the family, we might be tempted to shield the children from the death. But kids need to grieve just like adults. How long it takes and how they do it is just as different for them as it is for adults. So it’s important to recognize their feelings and allow them to express them.

It’s been over a month and E still talks about his Uncle Rick. Grief is a process and it will take time. It breaks my heart this happened to him at such a young age, but as time passes the hurt will heal. In the meantime, we are letting him grieve. He needs it just as much as we do. Because grief is indeed the price of love.



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