Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Kids and Grief

We have been open with our children about Sweeney's disease. As a family we have prayed for a year and a half. During this time, the Sweeneys have continued to be in our lives. The children knew when he was in the hospital and that if God chose not to heal him, he would be going to Heaven.

This weekend involved a bit of 'juggling' the children so that we could be at the hospital. Each time I would return one of them (usually K) would ask, "Is Sweeney in Heaven yet?"

Yesterday afternoon I picked them up from school and through more tears than I had hoped to shed shared the good news.
"Sweeney is finally in Heaven with Jesus."
My sensitive, but matter-of-fact P looked at me and said, "Then why are you crying?"
R didn't say much, but seemed to take the news in stride.
K rejoiced with a trademark giggle and "Yea!"

Last night at bedtime R had a lot of questions.
"Does he have his new body yet or does he have to wait until tomorrow?"
"Can Sweeney see us right now like God can?"

This morning we had our first emotionally difficult moment. P went into his closet and pulled out a purple t-shirt that we wore in last year's Relay for Life.
"I don't think I am going to wear this shirt anymore, Mama. I want to just keep it in my room to remind me of Sweeney."

I told them that I thought that was a good idea and we went in his room to pick out a spot. His first attempt was to proudly spread it on the floor in the center of his room. We talked about other special spots that might work and settled on dressing a big stuffed dog in the t-shirt. I then placed the dog on his bed.

P immediately picked it up and carried it around through the rest of our morning routine. He cuddled it close. When it came time for us to leave for school he insisted on keeping it with us in the car. He wasn't crying, just very attentive and affectionate. He hugged it, talked to it and treated it tenderly.

Once we arrived at school P would not get out of the car without the t-shirt-clad dog. I knew a large stuffed animal would not fly with the school administration. I tried to talk him into wearing the shirt and he refused. "I want to be able to hug it." We agreed that he could take the shirt off the dog and keep it in his cubby.

As I drove out of the school I wept. Love is powerful. Loss is an unfortunate companion. My children are learning that at such a young age. This is not a chapter of parenthood that you dream about longingly as a prospective mother.

When I picked him up today he was wearing the shirt (albeit backwards--"so the part with Sweeney's name will be on the front.") When we got home he took it off without any fanfare. He was perky and never mentioned it again.


BuckeyeNP said...

So sorry for your loss...I have been reading your blog and their site attentively (borderline, obsessively) and was scrolling thru on Friday morning when I saw Cabell's announcement. I literally stopped in my tracks and got chills. I've never met this guy, but he sounded like an amazing guy. A lot of what you described reminded me of our local YL area director, a young guy, full of life, so much to so many. So sorry for your loss, but hoping you'll find hope in knowing that Sweeney does have his new body now. "We who are in Christ will be given new and perfect bodies by God in eternity, and He is not dependent on the elements of our old bodies to accomplish this miracle." (Billy Graham)

Liz said...

I bet Sweeney would've loved to see all this!

nen said...

...and I'll bet Sweeney's watching his buddy and smiling from the best seat in the House!

Always grateful to witness the world through your children's eyes...."Then why are you crying?" What great perspective.

Melanie said...

Aw...my heart hurts for you ALL! I'm not a fan of grief. You all seem to be handling it with Grace and Peace. God bless you all!

Hey, I know the t-shirt might not be a big deal right now....but why don't you turn it into a pillow? If I were super crafty, I'd tell you how. But I'm not. I've just seen it done and thought it might be almost as huggable as a stuffed dog.

Jamie said...

When my grandfather passed away, my grandmother had teddy bears made for each of the kids and grandkids out of his shirts, and a blanket made out of his shirts for herself. It was something tangible that we could hug or hold when we were missing him. That may be something you can get made for Cabell.

Praying for comfort as you guys mourn and celebrate that he is now with Jesus!

SuperSuz said...

hugs and God's blessings for ALL of you as you mourn for yourselves and rejoice for Sweeney.

Your writing is beautiful.

Tonya Ingram said...

Sweeney is smiling and loving him from Heaven! God bless you all for having such a sweet, Godly man in your lives.

Kelly Summons said...

"Jesus wept."

It's the shortest verse in the bible, but so clearly shows that God knows our hearts and our sadness when we "lose" someone we love dearly. I'm pryaing for you, your sweet young ones and everyone who is hurting for the earthly loss of Sweeney.

Tara said...

I think your kids have learened and are learning such an important lesson. Grief is a natural part of life and to witness it in the setting they have will stay with them in a positive way. I grew up not being sheltered from death and grief. I attended many funerals as a young child more out of necessity than anything else. But I realized later it helped me cope with death better than my friends who were 20 yrs old and had never been to a funeral. My dad died when I was 21, and though it was the hardest thing I've been through, I knew what death meant for him. Death to the saved is victory! And your kid's comments tell me they know this!

Melissa said...

As a mother you want to shield hurt and pain from your kiddos. You have done a wonderful job with your kids, so they understand that hope we have as Christians. Prayers for everyone involved!

storey said...

Thanks for sharing how they're doing! Been wondering while praying. What an encouragement and truthful reminders their take on this is! Still wishing I could give all 5 of you big hugs right now!

I thought of making P's shirt into a pillow as well when I was reading...its really easy! (even for you :) ha! all said in the most loving way you can imagine!) Just stitch up all the openings and stuff it with stuffing.

Love YOU so much! Praying!

Chelsea & Nick said...

I have to tell you.. I can't quite get over this post. I don't know if it's because it's personal to me now- my husband was diagnosed with Lymphoma in Novemeber... I don't know what it is. I went over to their Care Page, and my heart just broke. I looked at their pictures and read a few of their posts, and I just don't understand. I know that God is good no matter what he chooses to do, I know that our days are numbered and God is in control, but this just really hit me. It's just not fair.