Monday, January 21, 2013

When There are No Words

Shout-out to Dawn on the Luker Family Tales Blog Facebook Page--I'm using your topic, so let me know where to send your Barrett's Blankets wristband! (You can PM me on the Facebook page)

One of the hardest things I had to do after Barrett died was to tell his sister. Audrey was SO excited about her baby brother. She was constantly talking about all of the things she wanted to do with him and teach him. She was three when he died. She was old enough to understand a baby was coming--and that the baby was gone.

I don't think we give children as much credit as they deserve. Audrey talked about Barrett every day. But when I came home from the hospital after his birth on Thursday, she never mentioned him or asked anything about him until that Sunday when I told her he died. She knew something was wrong. I don't know how she knew not to mention Barrett--wisdom beyond her years. I remember that right before I told her, I tried to get myself together, but that was useless. Our conversation went like this:

Me: Audrey, you know how Barrett was in Mommy's tummy?
Audrey: Yes
Me: He's not there anymore. He went to heaven.

Of course she went on to ask why and we went through several different things but the thing that seemed to settle best with her is that her brother is an angel now. To a three year old that was pretty cool in the moment.

As a mother, I want to be able to answer all of Audrey's questions about Barrett. The most important thing I've learned the last few months as a parent is that I absolutely do not have all the answers. It is ok for me to tell her Baby, I don't really know.

There are times when she speaks of her brother with joy--like when she takes his lovey to her four year old pictures so she can have a part of him with her. Moments like that make my heart smile. Then there are the times when she breaks my heart. At the PAIL Awareness walk we attended in October, we left with Audrey in tears crying I want my brother. I don't know who was crying harder--Audrey or myself. I don't know that I'll ever be able to forget how heartbroken my big girl was that day.

About two months after Barrett died, Audrey and I had another conversation on the way home from her school that once again pulled at my heartstrings. She asked me if there would be another baby in my tummy one day. I told her if God blessed us with another baby then there would be. She looked at me and said Mommy, will I get to hold the baby and bring it home this time? I remember being shocked by that question. I knew Brent and I worried about that and were terrified, but I had no idea Audrey had the exact same fears in her own way. All I could say was I hope so baby.

There is no handbook on living with the death of a child. It's something you learn as you go. One of the hardest things for me has been watching my husband and daughter grieve and not being able to do anything to make it better. Here is my advice to anyone dealing with a loss with living children around: Don't worry if you can't answer their questions. We all want to be supermom, but we are all human. This is a learning process for us too and sometimes we just don't have all the answers. Kids will ask tough questions. Just the other day Audrey asked me if the baby in my tummy was going to have to go to heaven too and I had to choke back tears. Sometimes there are no words, and that's ok. In those moments I've learned to just scoop her up and squeeze her extra tight.

Children grieve too, just in their own way. One thing that has always been important to me is making sure Audrey remembers her brother. We talk about him often and whether he is watching us from heaven. We talk about who might be up there rocking him today and what story Jesus may have told him. She never got to see him, so it is important to me that we talk about him anytime she wants to. I don't want to change the subject or pass the questions up. It is important for her to have her grieving process as well.



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