Grief Doesn’t Have a Time Limit

Tonight we brought our extra (our girl) home with us. Her school is on fall break this week so on a Thursday night she can come home with us and it’s no big deal. I thought we were going to watch football when we got home (Georgia Tech v Virginia Tech), but they all decided we should watch/listen to YouTube instead.

All three kids and Chris had ideas of what songs we should listen to. Chris turned on the first song. I said Jaidyn could pick the next song, and then Connor and then Cameron. (Honestly it was just the way they got to me.) However sometimes YouTube turns the next song on and you just have to listen to it.

When it got to Jaidyn’s second time to pick she asked for “Drink a Beer.” Most people know it because Luke Bryan sings it. I know Chris Stapleton wrote it and also sings it so that was the version we listened to.

In case you don’t know it about my three kids, they have all had so many people they love die. And Jaidyn asked for the song because she was thinking about one of those people who all five of us loved.

YouTube knows how we normally listen to music so they took us “Broken Halos” next. So how could we change it? And then because we were neck deep in “people we love have died” Chris as an adult got to throw his pick in next. He said since we were this far in he wanted Brooks and Dunn’s “Believe” which is our Grandpa John song.

Everyone understands that Dad gets to pick a song and then Connor’s song is next. No big deal. And then I watch Connor run to my bedroom. Thinking the other two kids were jerks, I follow to find out what’s going on and who’s in trouble. I find Connor sitting on the floor, his back against my dresser and tears running down his cheeks.

I sat down next to him and asked him what happened. He said, “Why did you have to play that?!” Honestly, I thought he was mad that he didn’t get to pick the song. I told him when it was over he got to pick the next song. That just made him cry harder and made him mad at me. I told him I was sorry but I didn’t know what was wrong.

He leaned into me and said, “I miss Grandpa John so much.” My heart broke and I felt like such a jerk all at the same time. I thought of all the times that I’ve sat and cried (normally on my husband’s lap) over these past three years. And let me tell you, regularly I sit on my husband’s lap and he holds me while I cry about how much I miss my grandpa. (Not the point of this but important enough to say I have an amazing husband.)

Connor told me repeatedly that he misses Grandpa John. He told me how mad he was that we played that song that makes him think about Grandpa and reminds him how much he misses Grandpa. We talked about how we all miss Grandpa John. I told Connor how proud Grandpa would be of him. How Grandpa is with Jesus and because Connor loves Jesus someday we will be with Grandpa again, but Grandpa wants us to live long full lives.

We laughed about how Connor is almost as tall as Grandpa John because the year before Grandpa died I broke my right foot. For my last doctor’s appointment Grandpa stayed at my house with the boys and Grandma drove me to the doctor. Apparently while we were gone the boys showed Grandpa the papers taped to the wall where I measured the boys. Connor was already taller than the 48 inches so I had taped a blue paper to the wall above it. Grandpa was taller than that paper reached but he made a line at the top of the paper and wrote Grandpa John for the boys. What seemed super tall to them at the time is almost their current height.

We laughed at all the “naughty” stuff Grandpa used to do with my boys. The three of them were always looking for trouble. We talked about how Grandpa wants Connor to live a long and good life.

Even though I know Connor has seen my tears, we talked about the times that I need to sit and cry and how that’s okay. Some times we miss Grandpa so much we need to cry about it, but someday we will be back together again. And it’s okay to be sad. There’s not a time limit on our sadness.

Honestly I sometimes forget how much my boys miss my grandpa. They probably miss him as much as I do. They did so much together. And sometimes we all just need to sit and cry about it. Grief doesn’t have a time limit. Connor and I cried together for a little bit. Then we wiped our faces, stood up, and went back to the living room. We both just needed that little break tonight to remember a man we both loved so much.If you are missing someone today, don’t let people tell you that you should be over it. Grief doesn’t have a time limit. One month, three months, one year, three years, ten years it doesn’t matter. Your grief is yours. And while you continue to live, you don’t “get over” losing someone you love. It’s okay to cry for your lose. We still cry for ours.

A day of hard questions

Today on our way home the boys and I drove by a graveyard. It had been a while since I’d driven by there and as we got close I slowed down. Just over a year ago we buried my husband’s grandma in that graveyard, and I always think of her when I go by.

She was the first person in my husband’s family that I claimed as my own. I didn’t say my husband’s grandma. She was just Grandma. I may have married into her family, but she always made me feel as one of hers. She was always happy to see us when we stopped by and never seemed to care when the boys acted their age.

As I drove by the graveyard, I couldn’t help but slow down and think of her fondly. I’m not sure if it was my slowing down or if they could just tell I was thinking or maybe it was just the first time they paid attention. Whatever it was the questions started. “Mom, what is that?”

They’ve reached the age where the answer “a graveyard” isn’t enough. I really wasn’t wanting to have a death and burial conversation with them and “Oh, Glorious Day” came on the radio so I was able to buy some time. When the song ended, the youngest says to me, “Will you tell us now?”

There was no putting it off. They had questions and it’s my job to answer them. It was the first BIG QUESTION moment in parenting. They know about death from the dog dying, but they don’t really understand. And trying to explain a body being dead and a soul going to Heaven is not something I think you are ever prepared for.

Apparently I did a good enough job because they seemed satisfied with the answers I gave. I thought I had answered all of the hard questions for a while.

Boy was I wrong.

As the boys got ready for bed, I went to YouTube looking for a good video to go with today’s Worship Wednesday post. I had planned on using NewsBoys “We Believe.” I found a video and started playing it. The youngest told me he loved that song and cuddled close as we listened.

We believe in God the Father
We believe in Jesus Christ
We believe in the Holy Spirit
And He’s given us new life

We believe in the crucifixion
We believe that He conquered death
We believe in the resurrection
And He’s comin’ back again

When the song was over, a whole new set of questions started. Why is God called the Father? What’s the Holy Spirit? I tried to explain that since God made everything He’s like everything’s Daddy, and that Jesus is God’s Son. At the mention of Jesus, they popped up with, “Jesus is a baby.”

I had to laugh. Yes, Jesus was a baby. No, Jesus doesn’t have small hands. His hands can hold the whole world. Jesus sent the Holy Spirit to us when He went to Heaven.

I continued to answer their questions the best I could trying to use words that would make sense to a 4 and 6-year-old. And I must have done okay because they seemed satisfied, said their prayers and fell asleep.

And while they may have been satisfied, I wasn’t sure. It was one of those BIG moments in parenting, one of those moments that you don’t want to screw up. Did I use the right words? Did they understand?

I want them to understand. I want them to have a big faith. I want them to believe.

“But whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to stumble, it would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were thrown into the sea.” Mark 9:42 NKJV

“Then the little children were brought to Him that He might put His hands on them and pray, but the disciples rebuked them. But Jesus said, ‘Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of heaven.'” Matthew 19:13-14 NKJV

Have you had a faith talk with small children? What words do you use?

 

You can find all of the Worship Wednesday posts here.