Thursday, September 10, 2015

My 7 year old Daughter's Grief

My daughter was 6 years old when my mom passed on. My daughter is now 7 and it has been 6 months since that time. In March of this year, my mom committed suicide and to me this means she ended her life by her own means and in her own time frame. She took the ultimate control over her life and ended it. It’s hard when I think about the effect her decision has on my daughter, her granddaughter. Although my daughter has some experiences with death and she does understand that when someone dies she can never see or talk to them again. Understanding why is a completely different question. But honestly who at any age completely understands why.

My daughter doesn’t know that my mom took her own life, but she does know that grandma was sick for a very long time and passed away. She was so sad when I told her and she hasn’t stopped asking about her grandma. She asks to go see her and she knows that means at the cemetery, but to her it doesn’t matter; she just wants to see her grandma.

This is only the second death experience that she has had. The first was my dad’s mom when my daughter was 4-5 years old. When this happened my daughter went through a phase worrying about if I was going to die. She kept telling me that she didn’t want me to die. I tried to explain to her that I wasn’t dying and that sometimes things happen in our life that we just can’t control. I know these ideas were complex for her to understand at that age, but I tried to comfort her, the best I could and I know that knowledge can be comforting.

Now that death has happened again to her and she was very close to my mom, I worry about the effect all this has on her. She has been acting more down and sad since my mom died, but she is only 7 and I wonder if she is feeling similar to how I feel and I hope not. I still struggle with sad thoughts and I can’t stop myself from crying sometimes. My daughter has broken out into tears randomly a few times over the past few months and when I ask her what’s wrong, she always tells me she misses her grandma Nana very much. The time between these crying spells has gotten longer and this makes me feel like she is starting to handle her grief better.

I have never gotten upset with my daughter for crying like she does. I wish I had the right words to comfort my little girl during this tragic experience. I tell her I love her and I hold her. I let her know that it’s okay to cry, but that it is important to remember the good times as well as smile at those good times. I reassure her that I love her and am here for her. I let her talk about what she is thinking and I answer any questions she has to the best of my ability and for her maturity level.

For the past few months I have had her in therapy on a weekly basis. Although I have a bachelor’s in Psychology and I am not completely lost when it comes to helping my daughter, I am not ashamed to ask for help since she is only 7 years old and child psychology is not my specialty. I believe therapy is helping her by playing and drawing or painting with the therapist she gets out how she is feeling and works through those feelings.

She continues to miss her grandma and I am sure she always will. I know I always will. Life is hard sometimes and this may well be the hardest situation I have had to cope with my entire life thus far. I wonder if my daughter will struggle with this as hard as I have. I love my daughter with all my heart and it hurts me deeply to see her get so upset. She seems to be doing better though and I think with time she will just fine. 

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