Cancer, Grief, Parenting

Grandma’s Box

Grandma has a beautiful new home. It’s made of hand carved wood. It has a beautiful dove ascending to heaven on it. Today that beautiful box is being buried. “Can I dig the hole mummy?” “No love, the cemetery people will dig the hole.” “but I want to!!!” “Maybe you can help, or make it bigger?” “ok, can I bring my shovel?” “sure love.”

“mummy?” “yes love” “why did gramma have cancer?”

well shit kid, I wish I knew.

These have been my conversations at random for the past 7 weeks. They come out of nowhere and then disappear as fast as they appeared. Kids grief is like puddle jumping I’m told. One second they’re knee deep in it, and the next they’re running ahead. Usually, this just leaves me behind struggling to drag myself out of the wave of grief that has just overtaken me.

We’ve tried to prepare our kids for the committal service today. The cemetery people will dig the hole. Patrick (from the funeral home) will bring grandma’s box and put it in the hole. We will all take dirt and put it on top of the box, and yes you can use your shovel, and yes you can fill the rest of the hole up on your own. We will sing some songs and say a prayer. There will be lots of tears. And then we’ll have a picnic. Yes, I’m sure there will be watermelon.

Managing my own grief through the experiences of my kids has been a blessing. I have to keep a level head as much as I can. It’s important that they see me cry, but it’s also important that they see me laugh. I need to keep going just to ensure that their lives can go on and they can feel protected and safe. It’s made my grief manageable. I know i can’t just totally break down right now, that’ll have to wait until after bedtime. For now, I pull myself up, wring out the water and run to keep up.

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