Tuesday, May 30, 2006

My Heart is Officially Broken

I've never been really certain what effect her father's death had on my daughter. She was two weeks shy of her third birthday when he died, and although he died here at home, and I took her in to say "goodbye to papa," it's impossible to tell exactly what she does and doesn't understand (hell, I don't know how much of this madness I understand; it doesn't make any sense to me!). She looks at his photo, and we talk about what he liked to do (usually anything she is enjoying, as in: "Papa liked peanut butter sandwiches, didn't he? Papa liked sandals. Papa liked Curious George, didn't he?"). We talk about where we went with him, and how much he loved her, and that he will never come back.

Today her teacher was talking about a special Father's Day event they are having. No one can remember my daughter ever mentioning her Papa at school, although her teachers and the staff all know. As her teacher reports it, my daughter stood up amidst her seated classmates and said, "My Papa died, so he can't be here." Then she burst into tears.

The teacher handled it beautifully, I think: she hugged my daughter, and said how sorry she and the class were that her Papa was dead and that she missed him. Then they had a moment of quiet for her, and for him.

19 Comments:

At 5:35 PM , Blogger jo(e) said...

It seems really healthy that she was able to announce it in that way. And it does sound like the teacher handled it well.

(o)

 
At 5:43 PM , Blogger Terminaldegree said...

{{{hugs}}}

I'm so sorry.

When my cousins were 2 and 4, my uncle died very suddenly. It was a horribly tough time for the girls and my aunt. And just when they would seem at peace (if such a thing is possible), something else would trigger the mourning again.

But the teacher sounds wonderful. I'm glad your daughter has such supportive people in her life.

 
At 6:09 PM , Blogger bitchphd said...

Oh, I'm so sorry. I too am glad for the teacher's kindness.

 
At 6:27 PM , Blogger Laura said...

Oh, that breaks my heart too. In a way, I guess, it's good she remembers. And like others have said, it sounds like she have wonderful teachers.

 
At 6:35 PM , Blogger snickollet said...

That totally made me cry. I wonder all the time how long GH will be here to spend with the twins, whether or not they will have real memories of him. I hope they do and I also hope that when the time comes for them to grieve, they have the loving support of people like your daughter's teacher.

My heart breaks every day for both of you.

 
At 8:04 PM , Blogger ABDmom said...

Oh my God, Dorcasina. Reading that made me burst into tears, and I've never even met your daughter. I can't even begin to imagine how heartbreaking that must be for you as her mother.

BUT, as Jo(e) said, this seems to be a sign that she is processing her grief in a healthy way. She is blessed to have teachers who love her and who know how to deal with her grief.

And she is especially blessed to have a mommy like you, who is helping her grieve and cope with the loss of her dad, throughout your own unbelievable pain.

{{hugs}}

 
At 8:15 PM , Blogger Visiting Prof said...

Jeebus. What a harrowing day.

Props to the teacher for composure and compassion. It must be reassuring to know that your daughter is in such good hands when you are not able to be there to comfort her.

My heart aches for you and your daughter. That's all I can think of right now.

 
At 9:42 PM , Blogger Badger said...

love to you and your daughter, as always.

(and good for her for being able to express her emotions in a healthy way at school. much healthier than some kids I know)

 
At 1:48 AM , Blogger Lonely Londoner said...

I'm so very sorry, Dorcasina. For you and for your daughter.

 
At 4:00 AM , Blogger Dorcasina said...

Thanks, everyone. I agree that it's very healthy for her to express these things, and to feel so safe and loved at school. And ultimately, even if she can't "remember" him , I'll be happy for her to have a lot of narratives about him, and to be used to talking about him in her daily life.

Later tonight, she came up to me and said, "My Papa will get well?" I think she knew the answer, but wanted to hear something different. But I had to say it again: "No, baby, you know that Papa isn't going to get well. He can't come back." Maybe it's healthy for me, too, to have to repeat it for her and with her.

 
At 4:58 AM , Blogger Songbird said...

Hugs to both of you. What a brave little girl to stand up and tell her truth, but how awful that it has to be that way.

 
At 7:02 AM , Anonymous turtlebella said...

A reader here, delurking to say: What a beautiful child you have. I was fourteen when my dad died and I used to dread father-daughter weekend at my high school. My response was to get sarcastic and bitter (I guess appropriate for a somewhat smart-ass teenager). But my heart breaks for your sweet daughter.

 
At 6:40 PM , Blogger Yankee T said...

oh dear god, Dorcasina, I'm so sorry. My children experienced the fathers day blues, but certainly not the same loss at all...they NEVER had a father. I'm so glad she has a great teacher, and I'm so so so sad for you and your little girl. You are on my mind, all the time.

 
At 7:08 PM , Blogger Ancrene Wiseass said...

Ohh. That's so sad. God.

Thank goodness she has a decent, compassionate teacher.

{{hugs}} to both of you.

 
At 7:15 PM , Blogger susan said...

wow....what a story. Your daughter's teacher and classmates were so supportive. Those family narratives can be powerful.

 
At 8:43 PM , Blogger Rev Dr Mom said...

Hugs for you both.

 
At 9:01 PM , Anonymous Menita said...

Oh that is just...
I can't find the words, but it's something that went straight to my heart and wrung it.
That teacher is a gem.

 
At 12:37 AM , Blogger The other me said...

My dad died very suddenly in May ( liver cancer too) my 3 boys, 2 4 and 5 seemed so little it was hard to know what they were feeling, they all have dealt in different ways but they are so resilient, so honest and so unafraid to say exactly what they feel, they are heartbreaking in their absolute clear thinking. My 4 year old is autistic, he seemed to think the hardest, he spoke about his papa ( grandpa) a lot and then, after 2 weeks said " I miss my papa, but It's not sad, I not sad anymore. He happy and his body no poorly anymore. I sad I not see him, but it not sad he gone 'cause he better now and he happy"
Sometimes children seem to have such a better grip on these things, without all our intense and complicated thoughts. Thank Heaven for these little people. Your baby sounds as though she too, is abe to say what she feels and will accept what is, so much easier than we as adults ever can.

 
At 3:01 PM , Blogger frostine99 said...

I'm crying too. Sending a big kiss to your sweet little girl.

 

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