With all that our family has gone through with Dad Cone in the past week and a half, there has been an inevitable topic that we’ve had to broach: talking about dying with our kids.
At first we tried to shield them from it, but as they were around Pappy more and more, the Hospice nurse said that they needed to face the inevitable: their Grandpa was dying.
We’d already been on the go so much in the past month that it was hard to believe that as fast as we had unpacked from our trip earlier this month, we had to re-pack and jump back in the car to go down to Florida again. Now here we sit, with my 58 year old Father-in-law who’s been given just weeks to live after being diagnosed with one of the most ravaging brain conditions known to man.
This was not in our plans.
In many ways, we have peace:
-There is tremendous peace in knowing our lives are not our own. Isaiah says, “My ways are not your ways and my thoughts are not your thoughts…” Realizing that God’s plans are much bigger and better than ours has helped us release the need for control over this mind-boggling situation…and further serves as a reminder that we cannot hold on to anything to tightly, regardless of whether it’s as meaningful as a relationship and as inconsequential as our own schedule.
-Though we have had issues in our relationship with my Father-in-Law in the past, my husband has experienced great conversation and reconciliation over the last few months when it comes to their past & present relationship.
-We see the time we have been given with him as a gift. The majority of us will have no clue as to when our time comes to leave this earth. My FIL has been given a glimpse into that gift; it is a gift that has allowed him the opportunity to make his heart right with others, but most importantly, his Heavenly Father.
At the same time, these past few days have been incredibly heavy and painful. We have been in and out of the hospital, learning the ins & outs of Hospice care, making very complicated life-altering decisions, comforting family from in & out of town and finally, what’s been most difficult for me, walking my own children through this process.
“It’s ok for his grandkids to know that he’s dying,” said the Hospice nurse, “It’s part of life. It’s not an easy part, but that doesn’t mean you should shield them from the inevitable. Talk with them, involved them in the process and most importantly, let them enjoy him while he’s still here.”
So I sat my two kids down on the bed in front of me and started with, “Pappy’s really sick.”
Before I could continue on with my rehearsed speech, Kariss quickly retorted, “We know; he’s dying.”
I wasn’t quite sure where to go from there. I asked how they knew and they said they had overheard us talking, so we proceeded to talk as candidly as possible without invoking fear or unnecessary worry into their little heads.
I brought back out the book, Heaven is for Real for Kids, to remind them what heaven is like and most importantly, who God is. What I love about the book is that it captures the frankness and honesty of a young child dealing with some very adult concepts…and paints a beautiful picture for children to learn and grow from in the process.
As parents, we desperately try to protect our children from any hurt, yet we often grossly underestimate their minds and capabilities. By not being honest, I was actually creating more stress and tension in my daughter (who is already quick to internalize pain), instead of opening the door for her to feel free enough to come talk to me at any point about all she’s experiencing and how it relates to her life.
In an effort to protect our kids, we too often prevent them from letting them discover some of the most important qualities of life.
I’m sure many of you have had to walk a similar path with your own family, which is why I wanted to offer you the chance to win a copy of Heaven is for Real for Kids for you (or maybe to give to someone you know who may be going through the same journey).
We appreciate your continued prayers for Dad Cone and will continue to update you as things progress.
Simply enter via the Rafflecopter widget below if you’re interested in winning a copy of the book:
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