Grief with a Toddler in the House

We are grieving in our house this, and Mae gives zero fucks. This is the blessing and curse of having a toddler when you lose someone you love. She’s two, so of course I don’t expect her to understand any of this. However, this means we cannot wallow in our feelings for too long (or more than two minutes) because Mae tugs on your shirt and asks “Come play with me?” or demands “I need snack!”

On Monday, Jimmy’s grandma passed away. She was ninety and some people’s reaction to that is “Oh, well she lived a long life” and she did and we knew this was coming, BUT all of that doesn’t make us miss her any less. We miss her, and we can’t believe we won’t see her again. We are both walking around carrying a weight of sadness, and Mae still wants us to crawl on the floor and play horsey with her or dress up and have a dance party.

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After the thunderstorm yesterday, Mae immediately wanted to put on her rain boots. We splashed in puddles and chased the steam coming off the street. There are so many metaphors in this….

 

I’ve really struggled with her this week. To be with her is to leave my grief. She lives completely in the moment, and it is hard to be in the present when you are trying to hold on to someone who has passed away.

When I’m in a good place, I embrace the moment and we dance in the kitchen and I just let myself go and try to remember Ms. Frances (who loved to dance). But that’s extremely difficult to do right now. I’m an emotional person. I have to remind myself that “feelings aren’t facts.” I can get side-swiped by sadness at any time. And a day with a toddler is a roller-coaster ride of their emotions, so when you mix that with grief, well, we are a real shit show to put it mildly this week.

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If the music was on, Ms. Frances had to move.

But when I woke up this morning, my first thought was how thankful I was to be in my big, soft bed with a kind man beside me and I laid there for a while before everyone woke up and listened to my breath and felt grateful. Then I made myself coffee and really took in that smell. When Mae woke up, I brought her juice in bed (a special treat!), and she rubbed her sweet face against my arm again and again as a thank you. For this morning, I am able to sit in the present, but it is hard.

Later today, we will go to the funeral. Mae is going to daycare all day so that we can have an opportunity to fully experience the service and hold all the memories close without interruption for just a little while.

I wonder about your experiences with loss while raising small children. Did this help or hurt your grief process? It’s been a new experience for us to navigate.

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3 thoughts on “Grief with a Toddler in the House

  1. Hunter was 3 years old when “Bumper”, my husband’s mom died of cancer. He did have a sad reaction as he responded to the sadness presented by his brothers and parents, but he also continued to fill his day with the joys that presented themselves. I found the joy of living to be a comfort and a distraction to grief. Life has sadness and great happiness. We are to embrace the joys as they more than compensate the losses. I think Frances was a living example of someone who believed in living and enjoying life to the fullness and always focusing on the joys of living and loving. She never seemed to focus on losses. France’s was always ready for the next adventure, similar to a young child. I know she will be missed but always remembered with a smile.

  2. Eliot was a very active three year old when Charlie died. While dealing with my own grief, it was intensely painful to see her going through her own version (when a car would drive down the street, she’d run to the window to see if it was her dad coming home from work).

    At the time, it was almost unbearable to keep up with her. At the end of the day, though, she and Jones were the reason I got up in the morning, kept in contact with people, went back to work, made meals, and so on. I couldn’t let myself give in to grief, so I didn’t.

    It took a long time to come to this realization, however. In those moments, I wasn’t in a place to see it.

    I’m sorry you’re going through this.

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