Blogging about life in Minnesota, raising our six kids with Down syndrome while battling Breast Cancer.

Be the kind of woman that when your feet hit the floor in the morning the devil says, "Oh shit! She's up!"

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Explaining Loss

Angela sees her Grandma Spring every weekend that she's with her dad. They usually have dinner with her on Sunday nights before he brings her home. Grandma Spring was a kindergarten teacher for many years, and is always excellent at coming up with things for the kids to do when they come visit.

A few months ago, Grandma Spring had pneumonia she couldn't get rid of. Being a heavy smoker for many years, everyone was sure she had lung cancer. As it turned out, the cancer was in her back, behind her lungs, making it difficult for her to breath.

Angela has come home from her visits with Grandma Spring commenting that Grandma is "really tired", and "needs a rest." When I saw her 3 or 4 weeks ago it was clear she wouldn't be around much longer. I started to talk to Angela about what was coming...

We've been talking a lot about the the circle of life stuff. The everything living is born, and everything dies. Even people. We talked about heaven, and how we get there, how loving Jesus ensures us a place there. We talked about Grandpa Spring (Grandma's husband) who died a few years ago, and how we don't see him anymore. But we have pictures, and Angela does love those pictures. We talked about how she gets to see Grandma on the weekends, and how special that is to get to spend time with her. That one day, Grandma's body will be tired of fighting cancer, and she will die too. That there won't be dinners at Grandma's anymore, but she'll have great memories, and there are lots of pictures of her with Grandma and some of the special times they had.

In the last week, Grandma Spring to a quick turn for the worse, and on Tuesday was moved into hospice care. She passed away this morning, on her 79th birthday.

When Angela got up this morning, while I was doing her hair for school, I told her that it was Grandma's birthday today. But that it was an extra special birthday. "Grandma got the best birthday present of all. For her birthday, she got healed from Cancer. Now she gets to be with Jesus every day! She doesn't have any more pain, and she's not sick anymore. Grandma died this morning, on her birthday."

Angela was quiet a few minutes as I braided her hair.

"Does Grandma have tears?"

"Well, I don't think Grandma wanted to say goodbye to any of us, but she was ready to be done. No, grandma doesn't have tears. When she died she was not crying."

"I have tears."

"It's ok if you have tears and feel like crying. It's hard to say goodbye, and it's hard to know you won't ever see Grandma again. Daddy will have tears, because he his mommy isn't here anymore. And Auntie Liz and Maggie will have tears because they don't have their mommy here anymore. And you don't have your Grandma Spring anymore. At the funeral, there will be a lot of people are crying, because it's hard to say goodbye. But they're happy for Grandma because she's not sick anymore."

I gave Angela the choice if she wanted to stay home with me for awhile or go to school. She chose to go to school, and seemed fine by the time I dropped her off. Next week I'll take her to the funeral, and she'll sit up front by her dad. I was around the same age when the only grandparent I'd ever known passed away. I have wonderful memories of her. I hope Angela can carry hers with her as well.


Kelley said...

I'm so sorry about Grandma Spring, but I feel you did an amazing job explaining loss to her. Bless all of you.

Linnea said...

I am so sorry for your loss and your family's loss. Give Angela extra hugs from all of her virtual friends.

Be blessed

Becca said...

I'm so sorry to hear about Grandma Spring. Wow, what a touching post. Something we all hope we never have to explain to our children, but something we know we will have to face one day. Beautifully stated.

JennyH said...

Praying for her and the family.
Sounds like you did a good job explaining. Death is so hard.

Tamara said...

So sorry to hear about Angela's gramma, Leah. Sounds like you did a great job of explaining everything to her.

Here's a post about Shawen when my dad passed away.