Life Lessons Learned From Loss

2014 was a year flanked on both ends by grief. Our family lost close family members in February and December. There was also the death of a pet in the middle (insignificant in comparison, but try telling that to a sobbing child who has only just recently had his first experience with losing a loved one).

I’ve written about how death has affected our children. Insecurities, anxiety and fears have been addressed by talking about our feelings honestly, but age-appropriately. For the most part, the kids are coping and moving forward.

Our daughter Avery, eight years old, but cognitively closer to age four, is still struggling with the loss of her Grandie. She talks about her daily. When she’s particularly sad, she makes an “I miss you” card to add to the collection whose intended recipient will never see.

Avery dreams about her Grandie a lot and the mornings following those dreams are hard. She’ll cry and ask “why?” There’s really no good answer to that. So she’ll squeeze her eyes shut like her granddad taught her and say, “Grandie is in my heart.” And of course, it breaks my heart.

Avery answered the phone last week (her new favourite thing to do) and I heard her say, “Hello? Hi Grandie! Hi!!! Mummeeeeeeee! It’s Grandie on the phone! It’s my Grandie!!”

I picked up from the other room. It was a sales call and the woman on the line had an Irish accent, similar to my mother in law’s.

I had to break it to my daughter that this was not Grandie. Avery was crushed.

We’ve decided not to tell her just yet about the recent loss of another very special person with whom Avery had a sweet connection. It’s an emotional burden we just can’t bear to place upon her little shoulders right now.

With great sadness, 2014 also brought clarity and perspective. Monumental loss has the ability to bring families closer together. I’m grateful for that. We’ve always been a connected family, but our busy lives have caused us to take certain relationships for granted. So this year, priorities have shifted to the life components that matter most—family, health, gratitude, kindness, giving back, and living in the moment. R and J have taught us that.

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