This is one of the most difficult subjects for me to write about, but if I can help another parent- it's worth writing.
Grief knows no age.
When Lila passed away, we had so many people say that her big sister wouldn't remember..
....wouldn't feel the hurt....
....wouldn't know the pain... because she was quote- "too little."
Unfortunately that wasn't the case. At 2 1/2 she was old enough to not only remember, she was old enough to feel all the hurt that we felt and then some. To this very day she talks about her sister and tells us all the memories she has of things that went on. Each time she plays at the park or goes to a fun new place she says, "I wish my sister could be here."
We went through a long and difficult period of night terrors, acting out, aggression, tears, and more with our oldest. She would sit straight up in her bed at night and scream "I don't want God to take me!" She was terrified that because her sister died, she could be next. We had to pour on the love and do our best to comfort her daily until she finally started to emerge from the grief rut she was in. This was made even more difficult by the fact that we were hurting too.
It's hard to lose a child, and it deepens the wound to see the pain in their siblings faces. It's hard to see their pain when they realize for the first time in their lives that people can and do sometimes leave- and you cannot get them back. I used the word "hard" here, it's a bland word, I could probably do better- but nothing can really describe the bottomless pit of hurt your heart feels in this situation.
It has been 2 years since Lila's death. Maddie still comes to us and startles us with random questions at times you don't expect them. She remembers the paramedics in the house, the casket at the funeral, the weeping people standing around in black.
I'm no expert, but I can tell you this- she couldn't process those feelings and thoughts at age 2, but the memories were such contrasting incidents compared to the previous calm of her life - that she could not forget them. She held onto them and as each new age comes, and each new stage of intelligence comes- she brings those old memories forth and tries to deal with them.
We noticed that the more we explained God's promise of Heaven, the more children's books we read about the subject, and the more love we share- the better she feels. Her healing is much slower than ours because it took her longer to deal with the situation- but she is healing! This is so good to see.
When we had our third child, Maddie never showed a hint of jealousy, never got angry with him.. She loves him endlessly. I attribute this to the fact that she knows how fast someone can come and go from your life. I want to live like she does and never take anyone for granted.
Age doesn't make us exempt from pain.