There is no reason a child should experience the heartache of losing a parent at a young age. I will never forget having to tell my kids that their daddy was gone. Less than one month after his death my daughter graduated preschool. I can’t even begin to explain how heartbreaking it was to have to sit there and watch her sing her songs and recite her lines with this empty seat next to me, knowing her daddy should be sitting there. The whole graduation was really a blur to me. I just checked out. I had no choice, I couldn’t feel anything. I was just a body sitting there. I remember trying to pay attention but the loss was too much to bare still. I could feel people staring at me, their pity they felt for my family. I just wanted it to be over and go back into hiding.
Last week, a little over a year later my second youngest son graduated preschool. Same school, same building, same idea. This year though I saw it, I felt it. I allowed myself to be present in the moment. This year there were still tears of sadness for a moment at that empty chair. But as a family we smiled more, we embraced this accomplishment. My son was given the brightest star award, he is a shy little boy who is so kind and loving and has come so far in this last year. He makes me so proud and I know his daddy will always be with him.
There are moments in life like this where you can really reflect on where you were and where you have come. I don’t know if it will ever be easy but I know it is getting easier. That does not mean I have forgotten my husband, the pain I felt or the pain I have now. It’s just really a matter of acknowledging that you are not stuck. Grief is a process but you must keep moving.
I remember at my daughter’s graduation she actually broke down in the middle of a song and had to leave the stage for a moment to get herself together. No five year old should know that kind of heartache. But this year at her brothers I remember looking over at her, she was singing and dancing right along with the kids. She was happy in the moment.
There is a lot we can learn from children, especially ones who have experienced such a great loss. Never forgot your loved one but don’t dwell in the pain. You must walk through it and allow yourself to feel it but don’t stay in it. And when life is good; allow it to be. Smile, sing and dance. Live in every moment.