The other night, I sat down with my SHARE newsletter, which is for parents who have lost a child through miscarriage, stillbirth or infant death. It had a special article focusing on a sibling's grief, which was really fitting because I had been thinking of Tessa's grief lately.
When we found out Jenna was sick, I worried and wondered how Tessa would take it. She had already lost so much in the year before when Granny died and her preschool friend was killed in a fire. I'm a worrier anyway, and I was afraid of how she would react.
She cried when I told her and asked a few questions. In some ways, she seemed a little relieved, but I found out a little later it was because her older cousin had overheard us talking and thought I was sick, so Tessa thought I was the one who was ill. But, later, when she realized Jenna wasn't going to be born, she was really sad. Everytime we saw a sick baby on television, she asked if that baby had what Jenna had. I've tried to explain Trisomy 18 to her, but chromosomal disorders are hard enough for adults to understand, so it's next to impossible for a child of five.
After the disastrous trip to Atlanta and the two nights in the hospital when Jenna was born, Tessa was a little clingy and the whining started back. I thought it would get better with time, but it really hasn't. She also has been throwing a fit every morning before school and wants to sleep in our bed instead of hers.
The other night, we were laying in the bed, and I asked her why she wanted me to lay down with her. She said she was afraid. I asked her what she was afraid of. She got really quiet for a minute and then said with tears in her eyes, "I don't want you to die. I want you to live to be a 100."
I realized that after losing so many people this year, Tessa is scared to death I'm going to die. It's the reason she wants to be with me at night, and it's the reason she throws a fit about going to school. She wants to be with me as much as possible because she doesn't know how much longer I'm going to be here. I assured her I wasn't going anywhere anytime soon and me dying was the last thing she had to worry about.
She stayed in her bed all night that night, and she didn't cry about going to school the next day. Now, I can't honestly say this is going to be the fix for all of it (she didn't go to school Thursday or Friday due to a really bad ear infection and upper respiratory infection), but I think it's a step in the right direction.
I'm just wondering if I focused so much on my own grief that I forgot about hers. Grief and loss causes a lot of fears, even in adults, so how can it be any different for children?
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