Emma was only 4 when Georgie died and, most appropriately for her age, she took everything in her stride.
She accepted without questioning that Georgie went to heaven.
She played tea parties in the chapel where his little body rested for three days, undisturbed by the reality of his departure.
After the funeral, she got back to her only-child life without any qualms, or so it appeared at the time.
But as she grows up, her anger with the situation and her questions grow bigger and bigger too.
Half-term was hell term for us.
Alex worked long hours that week and instead of having a great week off, spending it relaxing and recharging our batteries, Emma and I spent it at each other’s throats.
I haven’t been great myself for a number of weeks so having a screaming, unhappy child for whom nothing was quite right drove me to the brink of insanity several times that week.
I did start to make sense of what was happening the week after, when I picked on the fact that she was insisting her new favourite colour was yellow.
It clicked into place, as I did remember having told her that Georgie loved bright colours and yellow especially.
So I started prodding her gently with questions:
“Do you miss your brother, Emma?”
“No, not really.”
“Do you miss being a big sister?”
“Yes…very much…I made a great big sissie…”
I have also tried to give away some of her soft toys, shortly after her birthday last week, to make room for the new games.
I did show them to her one by one, including one of Georgie’s teddies.
I remember how she stopped breathing when the teddy went up.
She searched my eyes anxiously and asked simply:
She carried on saying that she wants to keep ALL of Georgie’s toys and never lose any of them.
This child of mine is trying so hard to hold on to the very few mementos and memories that she has of her brother.
And it breaks my heart.
As I see her struggle. Her agony with what has happened. Her questions.
And there is nothing, absolutely nothing I can do to make it right.
I cannot bring Georgie back.
I cannot build memories of what they have lost, a whole life of growing up together, of games, of rivalries, of camaraderie and love.
I cannot fix this.
I cannot mend our broken lives.
All I can do is accept it all as it is.
Her broken heart is leaking love for a little brother with whom she will not get to share her life here on earth.
All I can do is offer her the little comfort my words and touch can bring her bruised heart.
That and the fact that….her new favourite colour is yellow…
Oh Oana. Im in tears. Its so unfair. And there’s nothing you or i can do as parents to ‘fix’ it. I think the enormity of sibling loss is one of the most difficult elements of this path. It is just so cruel xx
I am sure it is difficult for you too, in your case probably even more so as there are so many memories, Christina! Hugs.xx
My situation is very different because my sister was stillborn so I didn’t have memories like Emma does of Georgia. However, my mum couldn’t talk about my sister and didn’t recognize my grief. I didn’t know about the funeral until after it and have never visited her grave. As a result, it took me 20 years to grieve and I still struggle. I don’t blame my mum as she couldn’t cope with her grief so closed down. But I wanted to let you know how amazing I think you are by supporting and comforting your daughter. Sending lots of love x
I am sorry, your mum was just trying to protect you for the pain, in her own way, I am sure. We watched a great movie the other week on the subject with Emma, The Song of The Sea, I would highly recommend it.xx
Oh Oona bless her and you, I had tears in my eyes reading this. I just don’t have the words to know what to say x
No words could mend it, Rachel, it is our reality and we live through it the best we can.xx
I lost my older brother when I was 15 and that was difficult, can only imagine how much a 4 year old must be struggling as at that age they must struggle to make sense of it. All you can continue to do is be the amazing mother you are and continue to support her x
I am sorry for your loss, lovely. It is heart breaking, the loss of a sibling leaves deep marks in one’s soul and existence.xx
Oh Oana, your heart must be breaking for the child you no longer have and the one that is with you and hearting. I have no ideas, but perhaps you can reach out for some help for her
I’m so sorry to hear that mid-term was so rubbish but Emma is very fortunate to have a Mum like you who recognises the emotional distress behind her behaviour. ❤️
I’ve talked to adults who were bereaved as children and heard some very sad stories of how children’s emotional needs were not recognised in the situation.
Children’s Grief Awareness Week UK is the 19th – 25th November 2015. You can download a unique logo from this website and they are asking people to use the hashtag #ChildrensGriefAwareness in online conversations.
I’ve ordered a ribbon and a little bracelet with a heart logo that says “Forever in my heart” although some items on the linked Grief Encounter web page seem to be already sold out.
I think that children’s grief is a really big issue especially because when we as parents are grieving it is incredibly difficult for us to fully support our grieving child(ren) and meet their emotional needs. 😔
It must be so hard for her as she obviously won’t understand and she can’t express her feelings like we would as adults. I imagine it’s even harder for you though and I’m thinking of you both x x
Oh so sad, but you are being wonderful with her, understanding and helping her find her way through the awfulness. Love to you both xx
Oh honey I am so sorry you are all having to go through this, Such heart ache. Sending hugs xx
Oh bless her, sometimes he can hit children harder than we think it does. Can she go to a bereavement charity for kids to chat to other children her age – that might help xx
I am so sorry. Even reading it is so hard, living it must be unbearable for you and for her. There is nothing harder than seeing our little ones suffer without the ability to help. I know my words can’t help, but I do wish you easier days (though I know it is quite impossible). Lots of hugs.
I am in tears Oana. I am so sorry to hear of your loss, such heartbreak for you and your family. I hope there is somewhere you can go to talk and maybe get hands on play for Emma to express her feelings.
I wish I could give you a hug, time is a healer, your little girl is still young, there must be so many questions she wants answers for and can not comprehend what has happened or why this has happened.
Sending much love x
I am so sorry. My heart breaks for you. x
awww Oana there is nothing i can say that will make any of you better .. but I am sending the biggest of virtual hugs to you all … especially your beautiful daughter xxxx
Oh Oana, I am so sorry about this. You have written this so beautifully and it is heart-rending. Words aren’t enough to say how I feel or to help, but I send lots of love to all of you. xxx
Poor Emma. I think at least she has parents that understand even if there isn’t much you can do to ease things.
Bless Emma, I can’t imagine how you even begin to explain things and help her deal with all of this.
I’m so very sad for all of you. It’s good that you’re talking about it with your daughter, and I think that will be really important for you going forward. I know it’s not the same at all, but my youngest child is adopted and has therefore experienced the trauma of losing his birth family (he has no contact with them). Even though he doesn’t talk about them much, every so often I mention them, because I want him to know that it’s OK for him to talk about them whenever he wants to.
Oh I just don’t know what to say. Bless her – and you. She is so lucky to have you. Kaz x
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Oh Oana this must be so difficult, I’m so sorry. I’d love to be able to wave a magic wand and make it easier for you all. I’m sure it will over time but for now don’t be hard on yourself and take each day as it comes x