One summer I had the honour of going to Prince Edward Island to support a friend whose dad was dying. A long story made short; for 3 weeks that summer I spent time with a large family of 12 children living and an even larger extended family of grandchildren, great grandchildren, cousins, brothers and sisters of the “dad” all of whom I had never met before.
It was difficult to be invisible, in a family’s time of crisis and still be accessible when someone wanted to talk. I spoke with some of the family members and came home with an enhanced appreciation of family dynamics; especially when the “figure head” of the family was dying.
One aspect of my time with this remarkable family was the number of young children who were brought several times to see their great grandfather in the hospital along with their parents, the grandchildren. You might wonder if it was appropriate for younger children to see someone dying.
I have mentioned this before; whenever possible explain death and dying to children in age appropriate ways. Allowing children teachable moments, the ability to ask questions and share in grief with others will help prevent children from making up their own misconceived notions of what death and dying is all about.
I have prior permission to share Abby’s final song in a letter to her great grandfather after his death. This young girl was aged 6 at the time. After reading this song, you tell me if younger children “should” attend a funeral and experience the dying process with their family members?
“Sometimes I don’t know where I am going, but
I want you to come home with me. You hold me tight
like a bunny and I don’t know where I am going
I am writing this song because I miss you
and I’m afraid I’ll forget you sometimes”
La la laaaaa lalalaaaaa
To Silly Grampy
Directed by Abby, her mom wrote the words and Abby’s signature is next to her writing of
“To Silly Grampy”. The attached picture is a copy of the letter. The original was put in the casket with “Grampy”. Abby hopes her letter will help others when grief touches them.
All my best,
Barbara Gillett Saunders
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