When I was about nine years old, I had my first experience with death. My great-grandmother passed away. She was older and had experienced deteriorating health. She had lived a very good life and it was just her time to go. I remember being sad and I very clearly remember that I was not invited to any of her services. My parents must have decided that I was “too young” or didn’t need to go. To this day, I am still sad that I didn’t have the opportunity to pay my final respects to my great-grandmother. I now know that as a parent, it can be extremely hard to know how to support your child through the grieving process. Especially when you are grieving yourself.
A little over a year ago, my father-in-law passed away after a three-year battle with colon cancer. While I think we are all grateful that he no longer has to experience the pain and ugliness of the disease, we are all shattered that he is gone. My husband was extremely close to his dad and he still struggles to figure out how life is supposed to go on without his dad. As a spouse, it has been a journey to figure out how to support my grieving husband. Some days I feel like I do okay at it, but most days I feel lost in how to comfort him.
While supporting my husband has been a journey of its own, supporting my children through this loss has been another element that I have struggled to find the best path. My youngest was just a month old and I am grateful every day that he got to meet his grandfather, even if he won’t remember. My middle child processed the loss in a very straight-forward way. “Tata is in heaven”. To him, nothing else mattered and he was at peace with it. My oldest was crushed. She was very close with her grandfather and she couldn’t comprehend a world in which he wasn’t here.
An Angel Named Sophia
One of things that has been an absolutely incredible blessing in helping my daughter process this loss has been an angel named Sophia. Sophia lost her father in a tragic accident when she was just five years old. She started a journal to keep the memory of her father alive. At just 8 years old, she started a non-profit, Heaven Sent It, to help other kids coping with the loss of someone important to them. She puts together amazing care packages that help grieving children start their own memory journals and process their losses. She includes a personalized letter to each kid she sends a box. You can read all about her amazing story here on Today.com.
My daughter received one of these care packages and as fate would have it, the timing was incredible. She was having a particularly difficult week and was really missing her grandfather. Sophia and her team of “Heavenly Helpers” personally package each box with a specific friend in mind. And let me tell you….the boxes look so awesome!
When the box arrived, I knew exactly what it was and couldn’t wait for my daughter to get home from school to open it. When she got home, I just gave her the box and let her discover what was inside. She found the letter first and sat in complete silence as she read. Then, the tears began to roll down her cheeks. She was so touched by Sophia’s story and that she was chosen to receive one of the boxes.
Inside her box, my daughter found lots of thoughtful gifts:
- A personalized letter and pictures from Sophia
- A journal to capture her memories of her grandfather
- The book, Always Remember by Cece Meng
- A necklace with a beautiful poem inside
- A game to play
- An “adult coloring book” type journal to color
- Picture frame to decorate and put a picture of her grandfather
I am just so blown away by every single aspect of this experience. This young girl is so thoughtful and wise beyond her year. In her pain, she found a way to not only to celebrate her father but to help so many other children suffering from the loss of a loved one. To a child grieving a loss, it is so impactful to know that you are not the only one going through such an experience. Sophia is truly an angel! The work that she does is nothing short of incredible.
Please be sure to check out Sophia’s website! Also, if this little girl’s mission has touched you in any small way, I greatly encourage you to make a donation to help her continue her mission and help as many grieving kids as possible.
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