Tuesday, February 17, 2009

How Children Grieve

There is not one handbook that could have prepared me for leading my children through the grief of losing their dad. Each one of them has dealt with this tragedy in different ways. And, really, I had not been much help to them until recently. Dealing with one's own grief seems to take up a significant amount of time and energy...add the grief of six other people and the task seems overwhelming. They either learn to deal with it on their own or someone's grief gets set aside until it boils over and has to be dealt with.

I will be the first to admit that I do not fully understand my children's loss. I see the consequences of it and I know the pain but I can't fully understand the hole that Eric's death has left behind in their hearts. And, I don't pretend in front of them that I understand it all but I am willing to listen and help in anyway possible.

A significant amount of letters that filled my email box asked how the kids were doing. So, I am about to give you a glimpse into the life of each child. I know there are many of you who continue to pray for each child and their needs.
I hope this will help you specifically know how to pray.

Boo is now twenty. She is a bright, energetic, talented young lady who is not swayed by what this world has to offer. She is by far heads and tales more mature than I was at her age. And, to think that at her age I was already married! She is much more ready to be married than I was at the age of twenty-five!
Boo has dealt with her grief all along the way. Her anxiety attacks have ceased and she seems to be doing well. It breaks her heart though to think that her daddy will not be there to help her find the right man and walk her down the aisle when that right man comes along. It breaks my heart as well. Of all the children she had the most heartache. She was daddy's little girl and had eighteen incredible years with him. He would be proud of her accomplishments. She is an incredible seamstress! She has a great sense of adventure and would be the ideal pioneer woman if she had lived in the 1800's. I am amazed at her attitude in life.
She has taken on the duty of head chef in our house. She is doing all the shopping, organizing, and cooking of food. Of course, she has a wonderful kitchen to work in now which is an added benefit. Although this is another great way for her to be prepared for her future life as a wife and mother I must say that I am the one that receives the most benefit. She is a great help to me and has become a very close friend. I am incredibly impressed by her continuing to want to teach herself new things...the latest? Learning how to make cheese. You go girl!

I believe that Goose has probably the hardest adjustment of all the kids. He and Eric were inseparable. Goose depended on Eric to teach him about life. As Goose tells it "God took dad home before I had time to ask him all the questions I had". Another heartbreak for me. I have really tried to surround Goose with godly men who will help him through this part of life. Growing up is already hard...doing it without your dad is even harder but not impossible.
I have mentioned before that there is one man in particular that has really gone above and beyond when it comes to shepherding Goose. His reward is in heaven!

Miss M is like Boo in the sense that she has been dealing with her grief all the way through this past year. She is the first one to put her arm around me and cry with me. She is incredibly sensitive to the grief she feels. Miss M is incredibly protective of her dad and does not shy away from her feelings. She was recently worried that I was going to put away all of Eric's pictures in the house. I have seen Miss M put her energy into learning. Her goal is to get through school early so that she can head on into nursing school. She is full of dreams and hopes for the future.

I don't get Daisy. In many ways she is like Eric when it comes to the emotions of the heart. Eric was incredibly even keeled and so seems Daisy. I don't think I have seen more than a few tears fall from her eyes in regards to her daddy's death. Some might say that she is in denial and I will admit that I have thought this a time or two. But, her personality has always been like Eric's and so I make sure that she always knows that I am available to talk to just in case she "finally" decides to grieve out in the open. I will admit that sometimes she shows an emotional flippancy that hurts and I have told her so. What I am trying to do is love her to death and let her know that all the emotions that surround a tragedy like she has experienced are okay to exhibit. I hope and pray she is listening!

Lil' Cowboy is doing well. It has helped to have him out of the house and learning under the watchful eye of our friends. Lil' Cowboy and Brown Sugar are the kiddos who could make me question God's sovereign will in this situation. They had to say good-bye to their life in Liberia and to the parents who gave them life. Then, they come over to a foreign land where they fall "in love" with a new daddy and mommy only to have to say good-bye to their new daddy. Where is the fairness in this? Thankfully I know better and trust that God's plans are much bigger and better than mine would ever be. For some reason this is a part of His plan for their lives and who am I to argue with that?
Lil' Cowboy has really accepted the death of his daddy through his child-like faith in God's sovereign will. He talks freely about his love for Eric and has great memories to last him a lifetime. He does have his moments of crying and he willingly lets the tears flow.
Brown Sugar has a similar child-like faith. I try to help her remember certain things that Eric would do with her like tickling her neck. She talks about him all the time and says the most profound things about heaven and God. I hope she never forgets the man who went around the world to pick her up and bring her home. She is a smart cookie so there is hope that Eric will live on in her heart...even if it is a distant memory.
She prays nightly for a new daddy...that is enough to make anyone cry!

For those of you who read this and think that all is well on this side of the computer I need to burst your bubble. This new life has been a huge adjustment for us all. There are many times that I feel like I am barely keeping this family from falling a part. Those moments are short lived though as I remind the kids (and myself) that God is in control. I did not ask for this new position and when they rebel against me they ultimately rebel against God. I struggle with each child in different ways. It is exhausting keeping up with each child's needs but it is the task that has been laid before me. To not accept my responsibility is to again... to rebel against God.
My morning prayer?
"Lord, give me wisdom to see where I need to relax, where I need to love more, and the issues that I need to deal with."
~Heather

11 comments:

Beth said...

I have checked in on you often for over a year now. You are an amazing woman! Thank you for sharing so openly and honestly about how everyone is doing. Just wanted to let you know that I have been and will continue to lift you and your kids up in prayer.

six2love said...

Thanks for the update on the kids. I just think you and Eric have done an amazing job parenting. You are continuing with such grace and steadiness. The Lord and Eric I'm sure are very proud of you.

You are a real adventurer. You could have been a pioneer woman yourself, it's probably where your daughter gets it! :-) My kids want me to do the same type of trip (we were beginning to plan it when David died), but I have not wanted to do it without him. Do you take a trailer along or just your vehicle? I don't have any other driver at this point but me . . . excuses maybe.

When will you be taking off? I'm praying you will have a blessed and memorable time.

Hugs,
Sue

lady jane said...

prayer heavenward <><

Thank you for sharing from your heart once again. The Lord is good, faithful, true, gracious and full of mercy. He's leading you and the children in the way you should all go - as a family and individually. Grief is a process and we all grieve in different ways. May His Name be praised.

flowerpot said...

It's good to hear where the kids are at in their grief. It's also good to know how to pray for them, although I don't need to know anything really as God will do His perfect will according to His perfect plan.

I wonder if Daisy will take longer to process the pain and grief since she was with Eric that day.

Praying for all of you.

Emily said...

I think I can understand the emotional flippancy you spoke of. For me, I don't like very strong emotions and have a hard time "coping" with major things. I tend to get overwhelmed and afraid that, if I feel strong emotions, I will be overcome and wont be able to handle them, so I avoid thinking too deep about painful things and almost make light of them. Sometimes I try to act tough like something tragic was not that big of a deal because expressing those strong emotions frightens me. I think I am afraid to feel sad because I worry it will turn into depression. Not sure why, but maybe that will add a little insight into Daisy's response?

I am thankful to get to see the grace of the God of all comfort at work in your family.

Maryann said...

I came across your blog through Gleaning the Harvest and what an amazing family. May the Lord continue to bless and strengthen each and every one in your precious family.

Erin said...

Hello Miss Heather,

I haven't followed your blog for very long, but God's deeply touched my heart through the work He's accomplishing in you and your family!

I am an 18 yr old young woman who lost her momma 10 years ago. I know what it feels like and I reacted similarly to your daughter Daisy. I can't really remember all of my emotions during that time, but I do remember that when I heard the news I laughed. I didn't cry until later on that day, but I know I was in total shock & a little denial. I knew it was coming but I couldn't accept it. I recall not crying much at all. Many people around me told me I had to be "strong" so that Dad would be okay, but that made things worse. I closed up and just felt lonely. No one seemed to understand me and that hurt. I grieved 4 years ago, finally accepting her death and being able to move on. I called my step-mom 'Mom' for the first time that year too, I think. We all go through grief differently. I know what really helped me was making a scrapbook about my mom. I filled it with memories, photos, flower pedals, her favorite songs and colors and verses.

I encourage you to keep on talking about Eric even when it hurts. Keep those dear memories alive. I regret that my own family closed the subject up. I still grieve. Even 4 days ago I broke down in tears because I missed her so. I read a letter she wrote to me saying that she's gone through all of the big moments in my life with me through prayer. It may sound silly, but I sometimes pray, asking God to tell my mom that I still love her and think about her. It comforts me and God is still even 10 years later healing my heart. I now deeply love my new mom, but I still love and miss greatly the woman who God used to give me life!

God is here to strengthen us. He'll never leave us nor forsake us! I have 1 other sister who grieved terribly. She was 15 at the time and even now she hardly ever talks about our mom. It hurts because I long so to know more... to be able to hear her voice and remember. It's not easy and sometimes I get upset because I don't understand God's plan by it all, but then I think about my new mom and how she is also a widower... If God didn't take my mom Home, then this other lady would be alone. God's plan is SO much greater than anything we can ever fathom! Keep looking to Jesus. Rest in His peace and everlasting joy! I'll be praying for you all!!

God bless and remember, God even knows our tears (Psalm 56:8).

Clarissa said...

Heather,

Still praying, praying, praying for you all. Wishing there was some tangible way I could help.
But, I know that while prayer often seems like a last resort, it is really our best defense and the most important hting we can dofor one another. You are an encouragement to me.

God bless and keep you,
God make His face to shine upon you and be gracious to you,
God lift up his countenance upon you and give you His peace.

anika said...

Heather,
God is so great... He brought me to this blog just before your beloved went to the Lord, in time to read of your excitements in enjoying one another as family, with Brown Sugar and Cowboy and all of that :) I am so excited to say, that the Lord has knit me into your "regular readers"... thank you for sharing where you are, where the kids are, it's the only way I can be prayin for you honestly... it gives me such a heart to.
you are loved !
<>< anika

Lazy D Ranch said...

Wow! I can't believe I missed such beautiful comments! Thank you ladies for leaving incredible words for me to ponder and fully enjoy.
Erin, I want to thank you for your words of encouragement. You write with such maturity. I can see that the testing of your faith has developed much perseverance and a sweet spirit to boot!
I want to assure you all that Eric is talked about regularly around here. I have told my friends that I love hearing about what they miss about him. He was an incredible husband and father. We laugh and cry together. It is really amazing how God has prodded me along to keep working at this thing called grief. I have probably read too many books and talked to too many people on the subject....or maybe that has helped. I know what I don't want - shutting the memories out of our life or not letting go. So, I just keep trudging along on this path that God has laid before us and looking back at what looks to be good progress and healthy grieving. I thank you all so much for your concern and prayers for our family. I have a feeling that you are a very important part to why we are doing so well!
~Heather

Lazy D Ranch said...

Wow! I can't believe I missed such beautiful comments! Thank you ladies for leaving incredible words for me to ponder and fully enjoy.
Erin, I want to thank you for your words of encouragement. You write with such maturity. I can see that the testing of your faith has developed much perseverance and a sweet spirit to boot!
I want to assure you all that Eric is talked about regularly around here. I have told my friends that I love hearing about what they miss about him. He was an incredible husband and father. We laugh and cry together. It is really amazing how God has prodded me along to keep working at this thing called grief. I have probably read too many books and talked to too many people on the subject....or maybe that has helped. I know what I don't want - shutting the memories out of our life or not letting go. So, I just keep trudging along on this path that God has laid before us and looking back at what looks to be good progress and healthy grieving. I thank you all so much for your concern and prayers for our family. I have a feeling that you are a very important part to why we are doing so well!
~Heather