What do I say to a child who did not get to say “goodbye” to a special grandfather before he died?
No matter how old we are, we can carry grief over not “being there” to say goodbye to someone important to us. I have appreciated the insights of Darcie Sims, a bereaved parent, psychotherapist and nationally known speaker and author, who herself died this year in February. She would say,
“Goodbye? Why would I want to say goodbye? I wasn't through saying hello!” Darcie Sims would also share her story: “Twenty-five years ago, I did get to say goodbye. I knew the end of our son’s life was approaching and I got the chance to give one last hug and say one last sentence. I got the chance to say goodbye and I didn’t take it. In the last moments of my son’s life and years later, of my parent’s lives, I did not say goodbye. With the very last breath of my son’s life, I simply said, ‘I love you.’ I was able to be with my mom in her final hours and I did not say goodbye. I said, ‘I love you.’ And although I was not with my dad when he died, when I left his home on what was to be his last night, I kissed him and said my last words to him, ‘I love you.’ Let go of the hurt you are experiencing if you did not get to say goodbye. You would not have said it, even if you had the chance. You would have said, ‘I love you.’”
Take some time to make your child’s own picture book of photos of that special grandfather. At the beginning of the book write the words, “Hello, Grandpa!” Above each photo write, “I remember . . . ” At the close of the book, write, “I love you Grandpa.”
If you would like to talk about the challenges in raising children, call the toll-free Parent WarmLine at 1-888-584-2204/Linea de Apoyo at 1-877-434-9528. For free emergency child care call Crisis Nursery at 1-877-434-9599. Check out www.familiesandcommunities.org and Grief, Trauma and Loss: Helping Children Cope CD (Foster W. Cline, M.D.) at the PRC Specialty Library (105 First Street SE, Austin)."
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