death, a preschooler, and Christianity
It’s been exactly a week since we found out that my husband’s grandmother died. Again, it was not a shocking event as her health had greatly deteriorated in the week before her passing, but it was still sad.
I was immediately faced with the issue of how to communicate the event to my two older children. We were in the car when I found out, and naturally, being sad, I cried a little, and naturally, being inquisitive, they wanted to know why Mommy was crying. Matt and I had not discussed beforehand how we were going to handle explanations and questions, which meant the initial task fell solely to me.
I don’t know how to explain why I said what I said other than the Holy Spirit must have been speaking through me, because I generally tend to overthink what I say. 🙂
Before I proceed, let me first say that I, and my husband, are Christians. We believe that when the body of a person dies, that’s not the end. We believe that the eternal part of a person, called the soul, still lives, but the location of the soul varies based on the acceptance or disbelief of Jesus as their Savior. Since Grandma was a Christian, and trusted Jesus with her heart, we know that she (her soul) is now reunited with Christ in heaven. We our bodies die, we know that we will be reunited with her as well.
But… how to explain all of that to a 4-year-old and (almost) 3-year-old??? What came out of my mouth was, “Grandma’s body is not alive anymore, but the part of her that loves Jesus got to go see Him in heaven!”. That was it.
The reaction was good. I think it was a basic enough (thank you, Holy Spirit!) explanation to be understood, and yet detailed enough to not feel like endless questioning was needed. I did get a few questions from Rachel in the next few days. Being in a more literal stage of life, she wanted to know if the part of Grandma that loved Jesus flew in an airplane to be with him, etc… 🙂
Bottom line: the death of a loved one is difficult, whether or not it was expected or unexpected. I have found (with this being the first close family member I’ve lost) that I was sad, but not as upset as others I saw. Am I callous? I don’t think so. Is it just because “I didn’t love her as much”? I don’t think that either. True, I didn’t grow up with her, but like another one of the “married-ins” pronounced, she was more my Grandma than one of my actual grandmothers is. I think I was able to be more joyful because the simplicity of what I explained to Rachel had taken hold in my heart, and I KNOW that I will see her again.