(Catch up with post 1: A Wife’s Good-bye. (A Entry to My Husband)
Part 2: Mom’s Dead, Now What?
(How to handle the kids)
I’ve been very unsure as to how I should start this guide – my goal is to cover as much information as I can, to assist you in raising our children. I suppose the best way to begin is to just assume that I die tomorrow – So here we go, I’ve died and this is how you’ll begin your new life, as a single father.
(Right now our kids are: 5. Almost 3 and 1.)
To start, you’ll need to deliver the news of my death. For the ages they are now, this task shouldn’t be extremely hard. Our oldest will be able to understand, for the most part, and the other two won’t understand for some time. Be as honest as possible (considering the situation), if I died in a wreck then let them know. If for some reason I secretly became a hooker and was murdered on the corner – you may want to sugar coat it for them. (Yup, same humor, even after death.)
Our oldest will undoubtedly be the hardest to tell: She’s emotional, she’s old enough to understand a bit better (yet not fully), and everything around her is already a crisis at this age. To help her and yourself, you should lean on the three biggest “motherly” loves in her life. Her Nana, her Meemaw, and her aunt (my cousin though, not my sister. I might be dead, but I’m not crazy.)
These woman will help you pull her through the hard days, and they’ll help her to understand her new life – but to begin, they will only need to call her regularly, and visit every once in a while. Whatever you do, I beg that you DO NOT let them take her for any overnight visits. At least for the first few weeks. She’ll need time to adjust to life with daddy first – this is going to take a while to do, but hold off as long as possible, because she will need a good sense of what life is, now. She can stay with them, when she’s more accustom to her changed life. When she’s better settled with you and the boys, you can let her start staying a night or two, every now and then.
I know the Grandmas will pressure you to let her go, to help you by “lightening” the load. They’ll want to take her twice as much because they are women, and she’s the first born granddaughter. The females will feel an uncontrollable need to whisk her away and “mother” her, that’s just their way.
My fear is that if you don’t keep her, and she goes to stay with someone for a while, she’ll begin to adjust to life with them, instead of you. Also, they are likely to over spoil her and further set her off of what will be her new routine, or what her new “norm” should be. My death will be way more than enough to turn her world upside down, so it’s best that you not let her life be pushed any further off track than it has to be.
If I had to pick anyone to keep her closest to, I believe it would be her aunt. She’s closer to my age, and Kayla will be more likely to turn to her as a teen. She’s also the only person who will be able to closely relate to Kayla, since she only had her father growing up, as well. It’s very IMPORTANT (pay attention) that she has a good woman to run to and a good person to lean on, when she feels like she can’t come to you.
I know, you don’t believe it will happen, but that time is going to come more often than you know, and twice as much when she’s a teen. So just make sure she has a good back-up person that she can run to. You should also be sure that the person will fill you in on anything a parent should know, (boys, sex, drugs, stealing) and if they do relay something to you, never let Kayla know how you found out. If you do, she’ll have a hard time ever trusting either of you again.
As for Jr. – You know him pretty well, and he’s only on the verge of three. I don’t think you’ll have as hard a time with him. He won’t get it at first, and then eventually it will just be the way his life is. I’m sure he’ll ask where mommy is every once in a while, but I really don’t feel like he’s going to have any sort of breakdown at this age. He should be able to adjust a little easier, over-all.
You’ll get lucky with the fact that our youngest won’t know me, you’ll have longer to prepare for his questions. By the time he begins asking about me, I imagine you’ll be a pro at this. He’s also in a huge “I love daddy” phase so he’ll simply be happy to have you around more. One day he’ll ask you guys about me, but you won’t have to worry about that for quite so time.
I think that pretty well covers it, but I thought I better throw in a list of questions, you’re likely to be answering, regularly. (You know kids asks question on repeat)
* Where is mommy? We’re not religious, I know your answer won’t be that I went to heaven. I also know that you’re not very good with words and emotions – the combination often makes you flustered. I can just see you now, “Well, you see, mommy died. She’s gone.” The only person who would mention heaven is our oldest and you’d say “If that’s what you believe in, then that’s where mommy is.”
I guess this isn’t a terrible way to go, but I don’t think mommy died is the best choice of words. Personally, I’d go with mommy passed away and is no longer with us. Then you can tell them the usual “she’ll always be in your heart and watching over you” type of stuff. Just try to remember to be extra sensitive in the words you choose to use – dead is a bit harsh to go with, I know it’s the truth, but it’s a bit to blunt for this age, and possibly any age when it comes to the death of a parent.
Other than that, I feel you can handle it pretty well. Just remember to also allow them to cry – I know that you will, but just be sure to make them feel comfortable in crying and letting it out. Like I said before, at this age, it’s more our daughter you’ll have to worry about.
* What was mommy’s favorite color? Blue and black
* What was mommy’s favorite food? Anything cooked on a smoker, and bacon. She also loved fruit, cantaloupe was her favorite with mango following closely behind. She loved sweet potatoes to no end and chicken just the same.
(These little ones will also include eye color, height, and other things you surely know.)
* What does passed away or dead mean? Give them the simple meaning, mommy’s body has stopped working. She’s stopped breathing and her heart stopped working. Death means that the body has run out of power. This is what I tell them anytime they ask about death, just stick with it.
*Are you going to die? It’s okay to tell the truth. That yes, one day you will die and that no one can know when that day will be. Assure them that you’re fine and you’ll be around for as long as you possibly can.
No worries, they won’t all be hard or emotional questions. I can see them asking you things like “Who will make our breakfast now?” Or “Who will find all my missing things?” (We both know how forgetful the kids are.) Rejoice in any of the silly little questions, but also take them seriously. These are parts of their everyday lives, and the answers will help put them at ease. Meal time, bath time and bed time are a huge part of their routine. It may seem like a crazy question to you, but it’s certainly not to them.
You’re going to get a lot of repeat questions about death. Things like, “When will mommy come back?” and “How long will mommy be gone?” Just be patient with them, I know you’ll get tired of answering the same basic question. I know you’ll get tired of explaining that mommy has died, but be patient. Keep repeating to yourself that they are too young to fully grasp what death is. No matter how many times you’ve given the same answer, just keep giving it. They’ll get it in time, and they’ll be thankful you didn’t snap or break down on them for asking. You can’t scare them away from the subject, it’ll only hurt them more in the long run.
They will more than likely want to see pictures and hear stories. I know it may hurt to go through them and to share our lives with them. It may also push your buttons because you’ll be forced to remember me, repeatedly. I know this part will be extra difficult, you may be tempted to put the photos away and stop talking about me – but I need you to fight that urge and allow our babies to know me, through you.
I know patience will be your biggest hurdle. When you want something, you want it now and expect things to run your way. Well, that time in your life is over. Your life is now 100% our babies. You have to work with them, help them grow and remember to keep your voice low. Don’t bully them or scare them into what you want them to be. Instead, you should guide them, and show them the way – they’ll love you so much more for it, in the end.
While all this is going on, you’re sure to forget to take a moment for yourself. Please don’t forget this, take the time to grieve on your own, as well as with the kids. You’ll feel like you’re being pulled in a million different directions, and you’ll often feel like you have no idea what you’re doing, and I know that this will only further fluster you, but try not to worry about it too much – You’ve got this, everything’s going to be okay, and I’m always just a turn of the page away, when you’re feeling in doubt. Whenever you need to talk I’ll be awaiting you in this book, and forever & always, in your dreams
P.S.: The effects of my death will vary if the children are older. The boys will be able to relate to you better, and I believe you will be able to handle them. As for Kayla, the same applies, but you may need to allow her more female time if she is a teenager, when I pass. At the teenage level, your biggest goal will be to avoid having her lash out in a sexual way. No teenage moms if we can avoid it, please?! If she feels she needs to be with other woman instead of you, then this would be the age range to allow that.
Continue with part 3: Life Goes On. (Falling into the routine.)