When did it become real and thereby lay you open to its impact?
Personally, I cannot remember. There was no defining moment of clarity that is salient in my memories. It must have come in slow parcels of cognition until it formed a picture I could comprehend.
Or maybe I still don’t understand it.
Growing up it was never real. I lost aunts and uncles, all my grandparents – but by the time this happened I had gained enough knowledge to know what was happening, and to be able to deal with it.
I ask the question as we have a four year old who is struggling with the question. Who lost his brother at three. How can so young a mind come to terms with this? Most of us have far more time to prepare for such events.
He is missing his brother immensely. He wants him back. He said to mummy that if we asked Jesus – “who lives in Bethlehem” – to bring him back. Mummy said this was not possible as much as we wanted to. Alexander has issue with things not being possible – perhaps a good trait for his later life. He had obviously been thinking this through a lot as he already had his answer ready.
“You go to the pound shop mummy, buy a lamp, rub it so the genie will come out. The genie can ring up Jesus and ask him!”
Of course – why didn’t we think of that…
But it roubles him deeper now. He has come to understand that we all die, and now he is frightened that we are going to die and leave him. We try to explain to him that this won’t happen for many years and he will be all grown up by then. He said to Mummy that is she died Daddy would cry very hard and he would not be able to get a wife! He know’s that Aunty Carol likes him but he is not sure he wants to marry her. (So you’re safe Uncle Daniel!)
He hasn’t quite got the difference between wife and mother yet.
On the positive side – he has a long time to get to grips with this and at least he is showing the intelligence and imagination to question and explore his feelings – and feels safe and happy to do so with us.