Wednesday, 12 December 2012

"Daddy, did I cry when Mommy died?"

One of the not insignificant mercies I was afforded when my wife died was that our seven-month-old son seemed to know little about it.

Part of me wanted Max to react to his mother passing, to what he'd just lost, but a much bigger part of me willed my innocent little boy to be unaffected, and continue thriving like he'd done from birth.

It's difficult to communicate with a baby, and to know what is going on in their head or their understanding of their surroundings near impossible.

In the aftermath of Samantha's passing, our boy made no immediate reaction to it, in fact I didn't note any changes in his behaviour at all.

That could have been down to my state of mind, of course.

But as bewildering and sad a situation that it was, Max, by just being his same-young-self, instantly became an unwitting bundle of hope.

His ignorance to his loss couldn't last, and of course his understanding and appreciation grew in small amounts with age.

By dealing with it in tiny steps, critically at a pace that Max himself decides, I believe his grief is a natural part of his life, well managed and providing him both lessons to learn, inspiration, as well as bringing sorrow.

It does the same for me too.

So when he asked me last week 'if he'd cried when his mom died' we had another stage to go through together.

There's always a call as to how honest to be in dealing with questions like this.  My tactic has always been to be open, remaining sensitive to the facts as possible.  No lying to soften grief blows, instead choosing to be understanding of the feelings that talking about death and loss may provoke.

A baby can't be expected to react in a similar way to loss as adults and even young children may do.  Nor can a boy still in his tender years find it easy to understand why he didn't react in the way he might expect to now.

But he's trying.

And I'm helping him try.

There's no pressure for him to understand it passed as much as he wants to, only reassurance that it's totally okay to feel however he does, he did the absolute right thing and affirmation of how much of a help he has been to everyone around him since the very day his mother died.

Especially to me.

As he always will be.