April 30, 2010 in Acceptance, Balance, Career Coaching, Communication, Compassion, Grief, Healing, Intuition, Knowledge, Love, Purpose, Rainbow Bridge Coaching and Healing, Relationships, Spiritual Connection, Thought, Understanding, Wisdom
When my son died an additional hardship was deciding how to tell his sisters as well as how to balance my own grief along with supporting them in theirs. The following is an excerpt from my diary and upcoming book “Grieving Joshie” by Stella Haight-Wichman
April 29th 2007 Going Home The police have just informed us that after almost 2 years of being missing they have found our son’s murdered remains. Now while we reel from the news we must tell the girls, his sisters.
Josh’s 17 year old sister is at their dad’s house. He will tell her the news there while I break the news to his oldest sister 24 over the phone and Josh’s 10 year old sister at my house .
I call Josh’s oldest sister who is married and lives out of state. Her husband answers and tells me she is gone for the weekend I tell him that her brothers remains have been found, that he is not coming back and that I do not want to ruin her weekend out with girlfriends so if he wants to tell her when she gets home or she can call me when she gets back and I will tell her. He says he will have her call me and that he is very sorry.
How do I tell Tia his youngest sister who has mourned his being missing for almost 2 years as only a little girl could, openly and with much grief and confusion? How can I tell her that her brother isn’t coming home again? How can I tell her that her brother is…dead? Finally I just go ahead and tell her that the police have told us they found Josh’s body and that he is dead. She looks stunned and then her eyes fill up with tears as she says “no” over and over as I hold her and she rocks back and forth crying. Her heart has just been broken completely open as mine has.
I am so tired. So much has happened today. I have had enough for one day, the rest will have to wait for tomorrow or another day. We cry together into the night until we fall asleep together mercifully.
You must do the thing you think you cannot do.
April 30th 2007 Back At Home
The next afternoon Joshs littlest sister and I have a peaceful discussion about life and death. We talk about bodies being like dirty clothes encasing souls. I reassure her that Joshie will be like an angel watching over her. I tell her that she can talk to Joshie any time she likes, and that Joshie can hear her. I tell her that Joshies body is dead—but Joshie’s love is forever. She says she doesn’t want me to ever die and I tell her everything living eventually dies but that I plan on living a long time. She has a favorite book I gave her sister years ago called” Mama Do You Still Love Me?” I remind her of that story and tell her that I will always love her for as many days as there are stars in the sky. I tell her that all she must do when some day very far from now when she is an old grandma and I cannot be with her is look at the stars and know her mom is up there watching over her as her brother now is and that we will all be up there one day. This seems to answer all her questions at least for now. She quietly gets up from her bed and picks up the book she got for her brother at a garage sale right after he went missing so if I grounded him he would have something to do and says I guess i don’t need this anymore and hands it to me. We both start crying again…
Later that day my oldest daughter calls from out of state and tells me she tried to call me earlier and found my line busy and figured I was probably calling the rest of our family to break the news to them so she then says she called her dad and he already told her about her brother. I talk with her more and answer as many questions as I can amidst our tears until she finally has to hang up…
The following are a list of things that I and other parents who have lost children have compiled to help other parents when faced with the difficult task of telling their surviving children that one of their siblings has died. My wish is that in some small measure it helps.
- Tell them as soon as you can.
- Less is more here so tell them in a simple straight forward manner being careful not to get to explicit. They will ask more questions if they need to.
- If they have a question you can’t answer tell them so.
- Do not beat around the bush. Tell them using correct words such as dead not sleeping.
- Ask them if they have any questions either now or later to not be afraid to ask them.
- Share how you feel as a means of role modeling for them. An example would be saying I feel so sad that’s why I am crying. This gives them permission to cry too.
- Talk about the deceased child using their name it helps everyone to work through it faster.
- Be age appropriate when speaking to your child about their siblings death.
- Talk about the many feelings that they and others feel when grieving, sad, lonely, depressed, teary, angry etc.
- Read about sibling grief either in books, articles or on the internet to better help your surviving child.
- Read an age appropriate book on grief to your child to not only help them talk and understand but because it also tells them they are not alone in this situation. That there are other kids who have lost siblings.
- Tell them about the funeral , what happens and answer what questions they may have.
- Help your child find ways to say goodbye to their deceased brother or sister.
- Talk about what happens to people after they die according to your beliefs.
- Make it clear to your child you are there for them and the many questions they may have.
- Talk about the memories you both have bad or good.
- Keep on the lookout for bad dreams. If they happen often talk about them.
- Watch for changes in behavior both at home and at school such as: sleep problems, anxiety, eating problems, anger issues, troubles concentrating, clinginess, crabbiness, aggression, or fear.
- Suggest doing something as a memorial for the sibling who has died. This often is comforting!
- If something seems to go on too long or seems to be too severe call a Professional such as a Certified Grief Coach or Therapist.
- Give your child extra love, attention and physical contact.
This is by no means everything that might help but is only meant to be a guide to start you off in the right direction should you need it.
Peace & Light,
Certified From Heartbreak to Happiness Coach
“Who then can so softly bind up the wound of another as he who has felt the same wound himself?”