Being a caretaker and a mom or dad carries a heavy responsibility. I felt I was always striving to do everything for both my husband and our son, Aaron, who was 16 years old at the time his dad was sick. I knew our son was very self-sufficient, but I also carried that guilt about not being at home a lot, and as a mom, my heart would break into pieces just thinking about what all of this could be doing to him emotionally.
I felt an immense desire to try and keep things as normal as possible during the time his father was ill. I am not sure if that was always the best thing to do, but I wanted his life to feel less interrupted, which is almost impossible to do when your loved one is terminally ill. I think it was that natural motherly instinct of wanting to protect your child.
What I came to realize is that he wanted know what was going on. He wanted to feel less protected and more included in things. Kids are very perceptive and they know when something’s not right. If your kids are old enough to understand what’s going on, talk to them, ask them how much they want to know and how much do they want to be involved. Encourage them to talk to you or someone else if they are feeling sad, angry, or confused by what is going on. Keep that line of communication open with them and give them some choices.
I have so much emotion writing this because it makes me think back to all those times Aaron and I would sit together at the hospital, doctors offices, and especially hospice just waiting, talking, praying…really just loving and supporting each other through one of the most difficult times in our lives. As parents, we know our kids, and for the most part we learn what they can and cannot handle, but you cannot realize how strong they really are until faced with adversity like losing a parent. I relied and trusted in God to take care of him when I wasn’t there to do it.
As much as we as caretakers are on our own journey with things, so are our kids. They have their own emotions and their own way of wanting to deal with things. We just need to provide the ears to listen and the heart to comfort them. As parents, we can have the privilege of this sad but sacred time to bond with our kids in a way that is truly special.
While we try to teach our children all about life,
Our children teach us what life is all about.