Talking about death

Whilst we were with the Son and my daughter-in-law the day after our angel passed, I asked the First Born whether she had told her children what had happened.
They had seen her happy and busy preparing for the upcoming baby shower and now they suddenly didn’t have mummy at home with them much. She wasn’t happy any more and cried a lot. I thought that they must a little confused.
She replied that she hadn’t but that she would talk with them about it later that day.
There are two schools of thought about speaking with children about death. Those who believe children don’t need to know and those that believe a child has as much right to mourn as an adult.
Growing up with my grandmother I attended many funerals with her as she didn’t have a baby sitter during school holidays. I never knew the people involved but my grandmother was open and honest with me that these people had died and that a funeral was a way of saying goodbye. I never feared death and my family always spoke about those who had passed with fondness and honesty.

The First Born texted me later that evening saying that she had told the children that their aunt and uncle’s baby had been born and then died. My grandson (being only 4) just said “Ok” and then went back to playing with his cars and trucks. My grand daughters are much more aware and knew that something was making mummy sad so they asked lots of questions. They also asked to see photos. The First Born shared the photos she had on her camera prompting one of the girls to day “She’s so beautiful but now she’s an angel”.
The funeral was held whilst the children were at school so they didn’t attend but I’m so pleased that my daughter was open and honest with her offspring as it has made it so much easier to discuss things with them now.

This past weekend has seen all three of my grandchildren staying with us. It is always so busy and full-on when they are here that we often are left gasping for air after they leave. lol
On Saturday my son and daughter in law came over to spend time with the children and that was wonderful. The children love them (although I don’t think Master Four has grasped the fact that my daughter in law is married to his uncle as he keeps referring to her as Uncle’s ‘friend’). I was so happy that there was no awkwardness about whether we might say something we shouldn’t about Suzanne. This meant thatΒ  they all had a wonderful time playing together.
Later that evening, one of my granddaughters followed me into my sewing room where I had a few baby things sitting out that were originally meant for little Suzanne.
“Did you make those things Ma?” I was asked.
“No honey. Not these ones. I bought them.” I replied.
“Were they for baby Suzanne who died?” she responded.
“Yes they were.”
“That was sad wasn’t it?” was the response.
I acknowledged that it was very sad and she then went on to talk happily about other things without any further comment.

There were one or two other conversations with the children over the course of the weekend prompted by things said or items around the house that piqued their curiosity but each conversation was natural and flowed easily.
I was so grateful that my First Born had spoken with them about this.

I spent some time sitting with my daughter-in-law and watching the Son and the children in the pool.Β  We got talking about things (as you do) and the topic of babies and children came up. Tears welled in her eyes and she angrily wiped them away telling me that she needs to get over this.
I reminded her that it has only been a couple of weeks and there are days that I still cry for those I have lost years later. I encouraged her to grieve without thinking she is being soft and I let her know that tears are a natural and healing part of the grieving process.
Then I shared the story that Tric had mentioned in the comments on one of my posts the other day about butterflies being the souls of babies who have left us too early. She smiled at that and told me that she liked this idea very much.
I continued that another commenter (sorry I forget who) had wished that my garden be filled with butterflies.
As we spoke two butterflies flitted into view and landed amongst the greenery of my shade house.
I pointed them out to my DIL and her tears dried as her smile grew wider.

Speaking about death and those who have left us too early is never easy but it should be as natural as talking about the weather.
Maybe it is because our family has suffered so much loss and tragedy over the years that we are more open about talking of these issues. I don’t know.
What I do know is that death is as natural as birth and the feelings that arise from both of these life events are natural also.
Whilst we remember those who have left us with sadness, it is a joy to be able to speak easily about them with others.

This morning as I sat at my computer and gazed out at my garden (I do that a lot lately), I noticed a visitor. Still in my night clothes, I grabbed my camera, changed my lens, checked my settings and rushed outside to snap off a few shots before my visitor flitted away. 014-copy
Life is full of blessings.


49 thoughts on “Talking about death

  1. Beautiful post. So true that death is part of life, and whispering about it behind closed doors or pretending everything is normal when it is not is surely not the way to go IMHO. Grieving is part of the process and you have given such a gift to your grandchildren by allowing them to speak openly about it and express themselves. I wish your daughter in law continued healing and comfort.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. You eloquently expressed the lost and the grieving. Your support will help your DIL healing… Thank you for sharing Tric’s comment about butterflies being the souls of babies… and the beautiful buttery you captured, Suz.


    1. I was happy to make her smile. They are doing their best to return their lives to normal but it is going to take time.
      I love the idea of butterflies being the souls of babies.


    1. Thank you Carl. To be honest, the children turn our lives upside down each time they come to visit but it was nice to have them here. They are so open and inquisitive about so many things but to know that I could answer them honestly was a huge load off my mind.


  3. I am so delighted that my words travelled so many miles and gave your family comfort. i agree, it is a lovely story, and how perfect that a butterfly arrived at that moment.
    Here in Ireland we ‘celebrate’ death (for want of a better expression). Saying goodbye is a big occasion, and the ceremony a celebration of life.
    I remember last year we were in some way prepared that young Daniel would die, but then suddenly weeks before that happened young Ben got sick. I can remember my daughter of 11 sitting on my lap and crying because Ben was sick. I already knew that the ventilator was to be turned off the next day, and that the family were just waiting for children to be brought to the hospital for possible organ donation. There was a moment when she sat there that I thought ‘I just can’t tell her, She will be heartbroken’. But I did as gently as possible and yes she was heartbroken. However my openness I think has allowed her cry,mourn and question many things in the past year, and I think helped her get through. Much better than trying to hide it all away. Death is very sadly a part of life, I think it is very important to help our children understand it and cope with all that it brings. As a mother those children can be 11, or a great deal older.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I believe it was the Irish who invented wakes was it not? πŸ˜›
      In all seriousness though Tric, it is so important to keep our children ‘in the loop’ about things.
      I remember racing home from the hospital after Suzanne was born to grab a few things for my daughter in law to wear and some toiletries. My Tween asked what was going on and I told her. The GG was trying to ‘play it all down’ but I looked at her and said “It’s not good baby but she’s fighting.” I’m not sure he appreciated my doing that but I’m glad I did. It made it a little easier for her when I called again a couple of hours later to break the news.


  4. Such a beautiful post Suz. Im glad the children know. She is a part of the family tree ❀
    Im so glad you were able to encourage your DIL.. I wish her healing and time to grieve her little one. Also happy that your Son has the children around 😊
    Lastly, I love the idea of butterflies being angels. I love them and now even more.
    Blessings to you all too xx


    1. Yes she is.
      We have a Christmas Ornament tradition in our family that I adopted from my mother and my children have adopted it from me. My First Born has already purchased some glass angels for our trees.
      I think I blogged about our tradition last year but I will do it again this year.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. At my Great-Uncle’s funeral just gone by, the Reverend shared a story with us: my aunty had asked the Reverend to pray with her before the ceremony, and during that process she felt something touch her chest. After looking in the mirror, she saw that it was bird poop, and she rushed over to my aunty and explained what had happened because, in Aboriginal Culture it’s said that the first bird we see after a passing is the spirit of our loved one, and so she thought it was amazing that the bird had pooped on her while she was praying for Uncle. Later, when the casket was being lowered, a bird called out.
    It’s comforting to think about like that.


    1. I think that is wonderful Anita. In some way it must have been a comfort. I am intrigued what bird it was. The next time that I see it, I will think of your Uncle.
      I am sorry for his passing. My condolences to you. ❀


  6. I really don’t know how difficult this time is for you and your family. Even so, my heart goes out to you. I thought about a cousin of mine who died while I read your post. Also sad, there weren’t any tears. While I was growing up, I went to some funerals of relatives. I think it was good for me. I realized that there is an end to this life and that we should acknowledge that so you know how precious our lives are.


  7. I think you probably know how I feel about butterflies and babies Suz…and now I know why – this line you wrote : ‘As we spoke two butterflies flitted into view and landed amongst the greenery of my shade house.
    I pointed them out to my DIL and her tears dried as her smile grew wider.’
    How amazing that you are able to be with them to walk with them.
    And your visitor – is beautiful.
    What wonderful events are unfolding in your journey. I know that sounds weird given the loss of your Angel, but how you are able to reveal so MUCH through this all…just makes me smile.
    You DO have a way of making people smile.


  8. Beautiful photo. I agree about being open with children about death. When my father died I was only nine. He’d had cancer for some years but no one had talked about it to me so I didn’t understand he was terminally ill. When he died all I was told was he’d gone to heaven. One short statement and it was never mentioned again. I was not allowed to go to his funeral. In fact I don’t even remember him having one, although he must have. There was no chance to talk about it and it felt as if he’d never existed.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh Marie, that must have been so difficult for you to deal with. I’m so sorry.
      Not having your father around is confusing enough without not knowing what ever happened and allowing you to say goodbye.


          1. Not at all. I spent a lot of years feeling bad about it and blaming my mother but, now I’m older, I can see she was doing her best. I guess that’s what we all try to do,. Whether our children agree or not is another story.


  9. Beautiful post, Suzi. Yes, you know how this resonates with me during the month of November. I’m so glad that you mentioned this to me as you have written beautifully about life and death. I agree about telling children. Their little souls are able to absorb exactly what is meant for them, it seems. Bless your you and your family during this difficult time. Many prayers in my heart for all of you, Suzi.


  10. It’s amazing how we as a culture have decided that death is a horrible thing to discuss when everyone is born and everyone dies, no exception. Well, maybe there was one…. πŸ™‚ I think children are protected unnecessarily from things that will make them stronger in the end. I’m glad you spoke. πŸ™‚


    1. Thank you Laura. My daughter is an incredibly strong young woman and I think she would have told them anyway but I am so pleased that she did. It certainly helped with the conversations we had with the children on the weekend.


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