Have you ever been in a place where you are soul crushingly tired? You feel the weight of the world on your shoulders and your soul just feels heavy?
That is where I have been lately.
There has been so much going on. Between the business of life, challenges with the kids, and other circumstances that are out of my control, it feels like I don’t have much more to try and pour out onto anyone else right now. And this is not a place that I like to be.
Grief is heavy. You can’t predict when it will come waving back in to wreak havoc on everyone and everything in its path.
I knew that losing Olivia would be incredibly hard. I knew that I would struggle deeply with that loss. But I never could have predicted how much it would affect her brothers, especially since it all happened when she was so little that they simply didn’t have to witness the full destruction in the way they would have if they were all older.
My oldest son, W, was only 20 months old when she passed away. They were twins and I knew the loss would be hard for him, but I couldn’t have predicted the way this trauma has shaped his life and his heart. And it hurts so much that I can’t fix it for him.
My youngest son, L, wasn’t born when she passed away. In fact, she had been gone a little more than a year when he made his entrance into the world. For him she is someone we love and we miss, but his grief for his sister revolves around the fact that he never knew her and he feels like he really missed out.
A few weeks ago, I was laying with one of the boys at bedtime when he asked me a big question that crushed me deeply. “Mom, did we even try to save her?”
That question took my breath away. It took me a moment before I could begin to respond. I needed to understand what he was asking.
After a little bit more conversation I realized my son honestly didn’t know if she had even had treatment for her cancer. He didn’t remember that part of our life with her.
So I explained to him that yes, we had done everything possible to save his sister. I told him she had gone through several surgeries, a lot of rounds of chemo, we had tried special diets, and we had prayed like crazy for her healing. But that ultimately despite all of our efforts and how hard she fought, her healing didn’t come on this side of Heaven.
He nodded his head, cuddled up a bit closer, and said he didn’t want to talk about it anymore, so we left it at that.
But it’s moments like this that are so hard. My kids grief is very real and very present. I’m used to managing my own grief. I know there are times it will sneak up on me. I know there are certain times of year and certain anniversaries that will make it hard for me to function. But I also know what I need to do to get through it. I know to build in extra time for prayer, self care, and downtime to just live with my grief for a little while. But how do you teach those skills to an actively grieving 9 year old or 6 year old who are too little to manage those emotions? How do you teach them to live with the magnitude of that loss when it is so hard for adults to even do that?
Sometimes I feel like I’m doing an okay job, but then their grief bubbles to the surface again and it’s harder to manage, and I can’t help them with it as much as I want to, no matter how hard I try. And that is when the soul crushing grief comes in like a giant wrecking ball.
I want my children to know that grief doesn’t have to steal all of your joy. Losing people you love doesn’t have to mean that your life is over. I’ve tried so hard to set an example of living with loss in a way that still illuminates with joy. I’ve tried to show them how I care for myself during the hard times, but without letting the losses we’ve experienced shape everything either. All I can hope for now is that my children will ultimately learn to do the same and to find their own long lasting joy and peace despite all we’ve had to walk through.