Talking To My Kids About Their Aunt Sharon

Our Aunt Sharon passed away Sunday night.

Monday was our son’s 8th birthday.

We made the choice to wait until the following day to tell the kids about her.

We didn’t want our son to carry that memory in association with his birthday.

Our kids have had a tough year with school closings and not being able to see friends and family nearly enough.

We wanted his birthday to stay untainted, if we could help it.

This is the first time that someone super close to them has passed away – so we really did not know what reaction to expect, nor did we even know where to begin when it came time to talk.

There’s really no proper way to tell a child that someone they love is gone.  Seriously.  I don’t care what Dr. Google says or what advice you are given.  Every child is different.  Every family is different.  There is no right way to do it.

However – There is one constant that I am certain everyone can agree on:  It freaking sucks.

As we finished dinner Tuesday night, we gently told our children that their Aunt Sharon was now in Heaven.

We kept it short and simple and in terms we thought their little minds could grasp.

Our oldest son has a hard time with serious subjects.  He promptly started talking about going camping this weekend, so we didn’t push it with him.  He has always been one to process information in his own, different way.  Almost as if he is trying to push out the bad with something fun in his brain.

Our daughter was very quiet and did not have any questions at first.  She finished her dinner and that was that at the moment.

It wasn’t until we were all up, moving around, and cleaning dishes that she began asking questions.

As I wiped the kitchen counter, she came to me and asked, “What happened to Aunt Sharon?”

I explained very simply that the doctors worked so hard to restart her heart but just couldn’t.

She asked, “Where did it happen?”

And then, “Why did it happen?”

And once she felt satisfied with her information, I saw the change in her eyes.  The realization.

Her eyes beginning to well up, she quietly choked out, “Aunt Sharon brings me treats…And she babysits me.”

I told her, “Yes, that’s because she just loves you so much.”

It was then that her eyes lost the battle they were fighting and the tears came.

She hugged me and said, “I’m going to miss her.”

I tried like hell not to cry too – but we all know how that went anyway.

I picked her up and carried her to the garage, where Hubs was starting work on something.

We hugged her and told her how it’s OK to be sad.  We told her how sad we are too.

She snapped out of it enough that she then wanted a bowl of ice cream and some cartoons.  Of course, she got it.

Her older brother, still trying not to actually think about it, asked what was wrong – though, I’m positive he already knew.

While she watched her cartoons, I went back to cleaning up the kitchen.

My son, following me around, talked my ear off about Fortnite, Minecraft, and the Demogorgon.  And every time there was silence, he filled it with, “Mom, I love you.” – My innocent boy just trying his hardest to stay innocent.

A little while later, our daughter seemed happier.  A bowl of ice cream usually does that for me too, so I totally get it.

I ran out back to bring the Hubs a drink.  I was only away for maybe five minutes, when here comes our girl, walking through the back yard holding a piece of paper.

I asked her what she had in her hands and she showed me…A picture she had just drawn of her holding Aunt Sharon’s hand, and the words, “I mis u,” written on top.

She began crying again and we just held her again.

Funny how two seconds before, we were talking about how his project out there wasn’t going as planned –

Funny how quickly a child can change your perspective on what’s important one moment to the next.

When I took her in the house, she decided to call her grandmother (my mom).

Not once did she mention to her what happened or that anything was wrong.

I think she was just trying to feel normal.

Both kiddos went to bed, seemingly content.

I’m hopeful that they will be OK today, but who really knows?

The viewing is two days from now and I’m concerned how they will handle it.

You better believe, my daughter will be getting all the ice cream she wants on that day.

Honestly, I’ll probably treat myself too…

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