This past week has been one of highs and lows for our family, we had an amazing week away in Salou, where we met some fantastic people, had plenty to eat and drink and most importantly relax.
We came home to some sad news though, my wonderful Aunty Jane had taken a turn for the worse! For a while now she has been fighting that bitch called Cancer, putting a brave face on at times and always smiling she certainly was a true fighter! Jane sadly passed on Wednesday night, and now the battle starts for her friends and family as she will be greatly missed by all. This isn't the place for me to discuss how they are feeling or what they are going through, but no doubt those of you that have lost somebody close to you can imagine how it is for them.
I wish I could say this is the first person that my family has lost to breast cancer, but sadly it is not, my wife's aunt also lost her battle 5 years ago after a very similar long and brave fight. Now this leads on to the difficult conversation with my daughter, in this case the youngest.
She was very fond of both aunts. Jane lived with near my parents, and loved visiting them, not just to see their lovely golden retriever but also to see Steve, Jane and the family, she also used to seeAngie a fair amount, she lived in Wales and Little Geek spent many a summer with her and her Nan, as Little Geek was so young when Angie dies she didn't really understand what had happened truly until the day of the funeral.
Little Geek had been amazing during Angie's illness and we thought she would be ok at the funeral, but we were so so wrong and as soon as she see Angie's coffin she went to pieces. It was a big regret and in hindsight we should not have let her go.
Little Geek is older now, and so mature for her age that we have a tough choice to make. She completely understood what Jane had gone through and is adamant that she wants to go to Jane's funeral and pay her respects and spend time with the family. This time around we have been more open with her about what Jane had been going through as well as confirming that there is nothing wrong with expressing her feelings and showing emotion.
It is one of the hardest things I have had to do telling her that Jane has passed (but only a fraction of what my uncle and his immediate family are going though), it was like a sucker punch hearing her sob when I told her that Jane had died, knowing that she was upset for Jane but also for my uncle and his family, and no doubt reliving some of the hurt from Angie dying.
There is no easy way to tell a child that somebody close to them has died, but there are a number of steps that we have found that helps:
- Behonest - Children can often pick up on feelings and know when something is wrong
- Encourage questions - Children are always inquisitive and we have encouraged Little Geek to ask questions especially if there is something she is unsure of or confused by, this is often a good way to understand what is going on inside their head!
- Support - Be it hugs, cuddles, this all helps make them feel included.
We will have to talk more to her over the next few days about what to expect at the funeral and the emotional rollercoaster that they are before we make a final decision about if she can go but to be honest at the moment Mel and I are split about whether it is right for her to go.
I know none of this is rocket science but if it helps just one other parent with a child going through the same thing then I will be happy!