Tuesday, February 10, 2009

The grandchildren's grief

I hesitate to blog about this simply because I'm no expert. So what I'll share is my experiences with the children but I'll not give advice. I have none to give.

I say "my experiences" with the children because I believe they experience and react differently with different people. I believe they may react different with their MomMom (their other grandmother) than with me. She has a grace about her and a quietness. I'm a little louder and more talkative. Just as my relationships with my grandmothers were different, I believe their relationship with each of us are different. One's not better than the other they are simply different. IMO the roles of both sets of grandparents is to give the grandchildren the best of both worlds.

In the beginning I believe MomMom and I were both very worried. I was worried because my son moved in with her and the babies grandpa directly after my daughter in law died. They needed to be near the children and my son needed to be near them. Living in their home brought him closer to our daughter in law. So, it worked out for all of them. My husband and I felt almost stranded. Here I was my son's mom, and it didnt seem as if he needed me. His life was shattered and destroyed but I was "it seemed" not needed. I was so afraid of losing him and the babies. I felt alone and isolated.

I remember having a strong desire that lasted a very long time of wanting to hold my son and rock him gently back and forth. I wanted to desperately take his pain away. I learned then, that as a grown man, my son didn't necessarily need me holding him. And he certainly didn't need me hovering. I made a vow then that I would do my best to not meddle in his life and to have complete faith in him. I still do my best to hold on to that vow. The desire to rock him and hold him has never really gone away. I guess all mom's feel that. I can't imagine what MomMom is feeling.

I'm sure MomMom was worried too. It was her daughter who was lost. I can only imagine her thought pattern. But I believe she would've thought that possibly my son would come running to our side of the family when ever he needed someone. And that her role would dwindle in time. Who knows, my son may remarry someday.... etc.... the thoughts race. Who knows what the future brings? It sux having to think about it. Rightfully, the daughter should be there. It's unnatural that she's not. Anger again.

Fortunately, for her and me, we are both kind, loving, caring and compassionate individuals. I think we instinctively knew and know each other's fears. And we've done our best, without really saying so, to share willingly and lovingly.

Throughout this past year we've worked together in every way possible. I feel blessed that she's their MomMom. We're both very different. She's quiet. I'm more outgoing. But we're both the same in the way we love these babies and want the best for them.

That helps. A great deal. If I was to give advice that's what it would be. Be good to the in-laws and GET ALONG! It's so important for the children.

Our two grandbabies have been shuffled around quite a bit.

In the beginning my son lived with both boys at the in-laws. (He's since moved out). Then the in-laws went back to work and so did my son. I didn't go back right away. I stayed home with the boys. So, that worked out. I stayed with the boys during the day and then my son and the in-laws had them at night. We didn't feel comfortable putting them in daycare right away because when my daughter in law died she was a stay at home mom. So, we tried to respect that.

Eventually though, we felt it was time they went into daycare. I had to start working as much as I could and the boys needed it. Especially the older one. We started the older one first and eased the younger one in.

I should tell you that when my daughter in law died the oldest had just turned 2. And the youngest had just turned 6 months. They are exactly 18 months apart.

At the time of her death neither child could talk. The eldest was saying one word phrases but that was it. The only words he had put together were "bye bye big truck". My daughter in law was constantly working with him. But he digressed in some ways. She had almost had him potty trained and well........ it's over a year later and we're still potty training him. That's because we basically stopped because of the stress and didn't start again until a couple of months ago. I think the potty training brings back memories for him. I think he's fighting it for her. I don't know.

We do our best to keep her memory alive in both of them. The youngest does recognize her picture and can point and say "mommy" but he doesn't have any memory. I know I talk about her with the oldest quite often. I'll tell him he reminds me of his mommy especially when he's happy and silly.

I remember those first few months when I had them during the day. They were special days but there were odd times for the oldest. I remember he would look off into the distance. He couldn't play by himself the way most children do. He had to have constant attention. It was as if, when he played alone he would think and remember. I remember going into another room and finding him lying on the floor and just staring into space. I'd say "are you okay" and he wouldn't say. He'd just stare into space. I was puzzled at first and then learned that during those times he was thinking about mommy. I asked "are you thinking about mommy?" and he'd nod. So, I'd get her picture out and we'd chat about her. He'd sit on my lap and I'd go over how pretty she was and how she was always smiling. He enjoyed that immensely. He wanted to talk about her. He wanted to remember her. My husband sometimes would think I was being morbid but no. It seemed important to chat about her. The chats were and still are very casual and fun.

I remember times when he would take her picture (we have one that's very special that I keep out and in reach for him) and set it in the middle of the coffee table. Then he would play with his cars and trucks while she sat on the table watching. It was eerie. It gave me shivers and still does. But I let him.

Then there were times, later, when he started "I don't want grandma! Want mommy!" That is when he was first starting to be able to voice his feelings. "DON'T WANT GRANDMA! WANT MOMMY!!!!" oh my gosh. What do you do? Me? I cried inside and out. Then we cried together and I held him. We cried. But it was only once. We never did it again.

Then one night I went to kiss him goodnight and he wanted mommy. So I said "okay, close your eyes and pretend.... and then I'll be mommy. Close your eyes!" and he did. I kissed him and he was happy. That only happened once though. The moment has never been recaptured. We've never done it since.

It seems as if by the age of 3 he's accepted (and it took probably 7-8 months) that she's not coming back.

Anger issues? Yes, I know he has them. We all do. We can't run away from them.

But all in all, he's happy. He smiles and laughs and giggles 85% of the time. At least when he's here. (I started typing 95% but I brought that number down).

The youngest? I think some of us disagree on how to handle him. He likes his 3 B's. His Binky, his Blanket and his Bottle. He gets shuttled from daddy's to MomMom's to my house and has never had a "true" routine since his mommy died. His 3 B's are his routine. At 18 months, my son believes it's time to start weaning him. I oppose this but only mention it here. My son is the decision maker.

But he does good. He really does. He's a scamp, the youngest! He loves to perform! He's, of course, way ahead of the older one at his age because he mimics everything and he's a daredevil!

They are so precious. My daughter in law saved their lives. She literally saved their lives by keeping the perp/creep/monster as far away from them as she could. She laid down her life for them. I really really miss her.


Jeanine said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jeanine said...

I should have known better than to read this when I am having an overly emotional week as it is.
They are so precious, and I remember when this first happened- I couldn't look at them without getting emotional. {like now} I just feel so bad for them. I know they are fine, they have wonderful families on both sides. It just isn't fair that they have had to go through all of this and cannot even understand why. wait what am I saying? even as adults we cannot understand why. we never will. I'm at a loss for words... Just tears and anger~