Sam now often asks; When is daddy coming home?
It has become a reoccurring question
I remind him that he knows daddy is in heaven, that daddy can’t come back
I know mummy, when can I see daddy again?
I remind him gently, he knows he won’t be able to
I want to see my daddy, he tells me
I know exactly how he feels.
We talk about daddy being in heaven
It has been the right explanation for my two.
When Chris was ill we would talk about daddy having to go to heaven one day soon
It was something Chris was comfortable with talking about
He used to get upset at the thought of there might be nothing after he had left us.
He so desperately needed to believe this for himself.
Now we talk about what heaven might be
How some people believe it’s a place you go to, surrounded by those you love
We talk about what it might be like if it were a place
We talk about ‘heaven’ as remembering the person, keeping those we have lost in our hearts and alive and with us through our memories
We talk about how some people don’t believe in heaven at all
That everyone believes different things after someone they love has died
I ask them what they think, I do not want to enforce an ideal on them
None of this makes any sense, it is unbelievable and hard to understand for adults.
I know our thoughts on heaven will be of help for some, but not others.
I let them lead on what brings them some comfort
Lily thinks it’s a place
She’s not sure what type of place but she knows her daddy has hair, no cancer, both legs and she knows he is with people who loved him.
Films like Coco & The Book of Life, direct her thoughts
Sam doesn’t know whether it’s a place or a feeling, he knows we call it heaven
He’ll tell you that’s where his daddy is. He’s quite blunt about it as you would expect from a then 3 now 4 year old.
Whatever Sams version is, he believes it’s up.
In the sky, above the clouds, higher than the stars
That’s where he points when he shouts, I love you daddy
And where he reaches for when he’s hurt himself or is upset and mummy cuddles just aren’t enough.
That’s where he tells me he’s going to go when he’s an old man and can see daddy again.
The place we’ll all go and have a big family party
We talk about what daddy would think of things if he was still here, what he would say or do.
We talk about things we did, the places we went, the memories they have
I take them back to the places we visited with Chris
To reinforce the memories they have
So they don’t just become stories they are told.
They know it’s ok to be happy
It’s ok to laugh and joke and talk about him freely and openly
They know it’s ok to be mad, and sad and that it’s ok to be upset and to cry when they’re feeling overwhelmed
They feel things that they just don’t understand, at times for what appears to be no reason at all
I am trying my best to help them navigate their grief.
Trying to help them understand that whatever they feel is normal and that they can talk to me about anything
It’s only recently they have started to understand the finality
Nearly nine months without their daddy.
That this, this feeling, this loss is forever
That daddy really isn’t coming home.
No matter how much we want him to and wish he could
No matter how unfair we feel it is
No matter how much we miss him
No matter how much we love him
That’s the hardest part of all.