By Tracy Lee
Special to the Sun
I recently wrote an article about my grandson grieving his baby brother. My living grandson is now five years old. Had he lived, his baby brother would have been two years old next month. My living grandson assisted his father, and his grandfather, in closing his baby brother’s grave. Backfilling the grave, although an unusual task for a three-year-old, helped my grandson understand that his baby brother had passed away and that he would rest in tranquil peace on our Texas estate.
My daughter told me a few months back that her son has been displaying signs of intense grief. Intense grief is naturally experienced at the beginning of the grief cycle. To my daughter, however, it seems unusual and a bit concerning, that nearly two years later, her son is experiencing an increased intensity in his grief. I explained to my daughter, that as her son matures and more fully understands death, his grief will match his understanding. Thereby, grief in a child has the potential to grow in intensity as the child experiences and understands deeper, the facts of living and dying. Grief treats children unfairly.
I suggested that my daughter take my grandson to a psychologist, or grief specialist, as a precautionary effort, to give her peace of mind, and to verify that my impressions are correct. Earlier this week my grandson had his evaluation with a psychologist in Hawaii where he resides. After their evaluation period, the doctor invited my daughter in for a briefing. He stated that although my grandson suffers sadness, sadness is all that it is. He is not depressed, nor is there cause for concern. Sadness is the most experienced emotion suffered upon the death of a loved one.
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Sadness is the most common feeling experienced during bereavement.
Persons who block sadness with excessive activities find that their sadness surfaces once they are exhausted.
Exhaustion renders one less able to overcome the intensity of sadness.
My grandson’s psychologist told my daughter that our plan of recovery for her son is working better than he had anticipated and that she need not worry about her young son’s natural sadness. In due time, his doctor believes that his understanding of life will allow him to tuck his tiny brother into a peaceful place in his loving heart.
I can’t tell you how relieved I was upon hearing my grandson’s doctor’s evaluation. Out of curiosity, the doctor asked my grandson to draw a picture of his family without promptings from any of us. Yesterday, my young grandson drew his beautiful interpretation of his family. His father and sister are standing between him and his mother. Their arms were extended out toward each other as if they are holding hands. He was quick to point out that they were all smiling and happy together. He had a little surprise for his mother though. He flipped the paper over, and on the backside, there was a large heart with a man and two little boys. He told his mother that he drew the big heart to show his family’s love for his two little brothers walking with Jesus. Again, he was quick to point out, that their faces glowed with big smiles and that their arms were extended to hold hands. You see, prior to my living grandson’s birth, his father’s first wife miscarried their son. Therefore, my grandson has lost an older brother as well.
I am comforted by the doctor’s evaluation of my grandson’s grief journey. It is hard to be so far away from my daughter, and her dear family, while they suffer through the recovery of their lost boys. I love them all so dearly.
Recovery has been overwhelming for me as well. Losing my grandson has been the most excruciating experience of my life. I did not expect it to be so emotionally devastating – nor did I expect my heart to remain broken so many years later. But, love never dies; I would not want it to. Instead, love burns a hole deep in my soul, and yearning has become a part of my existence.
I miss my grandson so much, that more than my heartaches. Every cell of my being weeps from the pain of existing without him.