I don’t even know how to start this post. I have so many thoughts and feelings going through me – so much sorrow, so much grief, so much sadness, so much uncertainty. Murray had a complete meltdown about his lost brother and sister this morning. He was sobbing for them, wanting to know why they had died, asking me to bring them back, telling me about how much he missed them and wanting to know exactly where they are, pointing up at the sky. He was inconsolable in his grief, holding onto me for dear life. As a parent all you want to do is protect your child from the bad in the world. You want to keep them safe and happy. I have already failed 2 of my children, unable to keep them safe and alive, and to see our first born, our darling oldest child, in such pain, is enough to shatter my fragile heart once more.
Taking a few steps back, while I would have expected that with time, Murray would speak about his siblings less and less, it has in fact been the opposite. I guess as he grows up and finds more words for things, and develops his emotional maturity, he is able to process things in a way he couldn’t do 2.5 years ago. While we have pictures of Bella up in our home, Bella and Thomas are not a part of our everyday family dialogue. The loss of them is certainly not something that is pushed down his throat. We want him to be able to grow up in as normal an environment as possible, where the loss of his siblings, and the grief that Murray and we experience, doesn’t rob him of his parents and his childhood and innocence, but rather helps to develop EQ and skills that will help him be more resilient in later life.
2 weeks ago Murray spent some time with my dad and step-mom at their home in Grahamstown and I flew to go and fetch him after a few days. In their home there is a wall with pictures of Bella on and a tribute photo of Thomas as well. While some of the photos Murray is familiar with as they are up in our home, there are others which aren’t familiar to him. He insisted on taking them off the wall, lining them up on the stairs and including the pictures as part of his game. He then also went and packed a number of them in his suitcase wanting to take the photos home with him and wanting to know why he didn’t have his own photos of his brother and sister up in his bedroom at home. It was also the first time he asked me specifically about how they died, and wanted to know the details. As always, I tried to answer his questions as simply and honestly as I can, as hard as it might be for me, letting him know that I was happy for him to ask me as many questions as he liked and to talk as much and for as long as he liked about them.
He has also been asking me a lot of questions as well about when James and I will die, being very very scared that we will die soon. He also asks us a lot about our parents, when they died, what happened etc. It’s not always an easy conversation to have with him where on one hand I am trying to comfort him and tell him that I will only die when I am very old and when he is an adult, and yet both my mom and James’ dad died before we were 9 years old. He is just so desperate for a sibling, often asking us when he is going to get another brother and sister. Again this morning, he implored us to give him a baby brother or sister, how on earth do we even begin to have that conversation with him?
Even though I find it so incredibly emotionally hard to try and comfort my child in his grief over his lost siblings, as I cry along with him I am grateful that Murray is able to find the words to express how he feels. That he doesn’t just bottle it up inside, which could be more detrimental in the long term. And I think that the many hours we have spent in play therapy is helping him with that. This journey is a constant rollercoaster of ups and downs, some days are easier than others, but no day is ever easy. We are forever changed, our darling Murray included, and my wish is that as we navigate this never ending journey with grace, emotion and resilience, my child will flourish, understanding his emotions and the fragility of life, and making the most of each day.