Death is all around us. It is normal. It should not be a matter of fear. Dustin and I were recently talking about cuddles. I asked if he would still give me a hug when he was as tall as his Dad. ‘Yes Nanny, but you might be dead by then’ . I smiled and agreed. I asked if he would give me a hug before I go and he said ‘ Yes of course Nanny’.
For Dustin death is pretty ordinary…the dinosaurs all died, lots of creatures die on BBC nature programmes https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/newsbeat-50152283 . In fact in all programmes presented by the great David Attenborough. David being described as the world’s favourite Grandad by some https://www.stuff.co.nz/entertainment/tv-radio/88547667/sir-david-attenborough-everyones-favourite-grandfather .
Death is ordinary
How do we keep that sense of the ordinary and normal as children grow? It is the death of grandparents which they are most likely to experience pretty early on in their lives. I do have a friend who was a great grandparent by 50 and two cancers later is still going at 70 so there are the exceptions.
Coming to terms with our mortality
My view is that we grandparents have to come to terms with our own mortality and help keep our conversation about death as ordinary as ‘ the holiday has ended’, ‘ your hamster is dead’. Each has a different emotional loading but the end is the same, something ‘ is no more’ but that is ok.
I have a strong and positive relationship with my grandsons. It is imperative that I do not do anything to make them feel worse at my passing than their love will mean they feel anyway. The flow of happy memories will soon reinstate themselves and the grief will abate.
It is not the length of a life but its quality that matters
I do not want the fear of loss to inhibit their joy of living and our fun together now. It is a tightrope. It is not the length of our lives together that matters but the quality of our relationship. I don’t want a miserable long life. I am doing my best to ensure that does not happen.
My daughter and my grandsons have a central role in helping me achieve lifetime happiness. That may sound like a pressure on them. That is not the intention. When we have a row it ends with a wonderful hug. Remembering to say how much we value each other is important. The joy of a ‘ family hug’ cannot be underestimated.
- Come to terms with the fact that one day you won’t be there and they will
- Overtime your place in their lives lessens
- When you die sadness and grief will be all around but life should return to normal
- Live your life to increase the chances you will end up in the ‘happy memory box’