Joanne: Helping Others (Part 6 of 7)

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Not only did I lose my husband, but my kids lost their dad and my grandkids lost their grandpa. I mourned my own grief, but I also mourned the loss my kids and grandkids suffered, and I was still the Mom and the Grandma.  It’s hard to mourn such a deep loss while at the same time trying to be there as Mom and Grandma to help my kids and grandkids.

The kids really grieved.  The year after he died my young grandson had a meltdown -- and it was over Gary.  He didn’t understand how he could pray and pray to God to get better, and that God didn’t let that happen.  He was very angry that he died.

My daughter came home several months after Gary died and stayed here for a few days and just loved being at home under Gary’s afghans.  She would sit on the deck quietly, just enjoyed the peace of home.  For the longest time my kids asked me not to remove Gary’s workboots which always sat under a chair in the laundry room.

That’s where he always set them and they were a fixture in our home. So I kept those boots there for a couple of years.

I made a few changes and some of those were hard for the kids.  I got rid of an old rickety chair and the kids walked in the house and were looking for it – so I gave to one of them.

About two months after Gary died I took down his Facebook page because it seemed like the right thing to do at the time, but one of my kids really struggled with that being gone.  Little things and changes would be hard for them.

I was going to get rid of one of Gary’s coats that was held together with electrical tape that had been hanging in a closet for 4 years.  Gary taped it together because it was a warm, big, downy, quilted coat that he just loved.  One of my daughters saved that when I was ready to get rid of it.

“I need that,” she said.  So I didn’t throw it out.


A year or so after Gary died I went to visit one of my kids living in a different state.  One night while I was there she was taking a bath and just had a breakdown, pouring out her grief that had been bottled up for a year that she hadn’t totally processed or faced.  When I came and visited it all just came pouring out.  We had the chance to talk through a lot of things.

They all have different needs.

And meeting them all, while grieving myself, was hard sometimes.  It was hard to be strong enough for me, let alone for them.  But I was their mom, after all, and it was important to me to be there for them because they’re my kids and I hurt so deeply for them.  I would have done anything to shield them from that loss, but since I couldn’t do that, I did the best I could to support them.

How did you support others while still grieving yourself?  What advice do you have for others balancing these difficult roles of caring for self and caring for others?