You Think You Know

I thought I knew how the kids were handling Joey's passing. I watch them fairly closely to see how they are reacting, behaving, understanding. But sometimes I just don't realize what they are thinking and feeling.

Jimmy was in the car yesterday talking about Joey. It really was a light-hearted talk when suddenly he caught his breath, began to speak and then to cry.

"Joey went away," he said with deep emotion and tears beginning to fall.

I was an instant wreck. I haven't seen Jimmy ever cry over Joey's passing. NEVER.

I just didn't think he really got it--the permanence of Joey being gone. Even I sometimes imagine that Joey is only at a friend's house or at school or somewhere from which he will soon return. But he isn't, and I'm realizing that Jimmy gets that too.

"He was the best big brother," he sobs. I am trying very hard not to let my crying overpower his own emotions and words. It's his time to mourn, and I don't want to dishonor that.

We come in the house (we've just pulled into the garage), and he lays his head down on the table and cries. I am at a loss. This is one thing that I just can't make better. One thing that I shouldn't even have to explain to my youngest little boy. This, to me, is the hardest part of losing Joey--the ache I see in the people that loved him. It's as if the pain of Joey's disease and passing goes on in all of us.

But I think Jimmy needs to let it out so I let him. I listen and kiss him and hug him tight. It wouldn't be right of me to cut him off when he's finally able to express his feelings.

It's only a matter of minutes, and he is much more quick to recover than I. He's off playing his own little world again, with my car keys of all things. But that's healthy! He's fine now. I'm heartbroken, though. I just didn't realize that Jimmy was missing him the way Brett and I are missing him. Which means that Katelyn is aching inside too.

The counselor at the hospital told us it might take years for the kids to fully express their grief. I'm ok with that. I would never want to put a timeline on mourning. It's so unique to each of us. Still, as their mother I want to make it all better. I only wish I could.


  1. Anonymous9:51 AM

    I think you did a wonderful job letting him out his grief instead of stopping it, you are doing great this way, this way it will go as it should.


  2. i know, jen. i know. i had a similar experience not more than a week or two ago with my little girl, missing her grammy. the tears were coming and she tried to pass it off as if her eyes were just watering. i think it caught her by surprise and she felt embarrassed. *HUGS* my sweet friend....HUGE HUGS.

  3. What a sweet, sensitive child! You are such an amazing mom - I am always so inspired by you and your sweet family. Thanks for sharing the personal things that make us all hug our kids a little tighter and make us try a little harder to do better each day.

  4. That breaks my heart! i think we often underestimate the power these little ones hold and the understanding they possess. At least he has wonderful memories of him. That is just the sweetest thing and you did right by just letting him be. You are a strong, wonderful woman/mother Jen. Love ya babe!

  5. Cynthia11:35 AM

    Hang in there Jen....everything takes time. Feelings come and go, memories flood, love pours out. What a sweet tribute to Joey as a big brother...

  6. Wow...that breaks my heart. You did an excellent job of letting him get it out! I want you to know I think of you guys all the time...

  7. Jen, you have such a wonderful and strong perspective when dealing with this loss. It shows through your children as well. You are doing a great job as a mother and helping your children cope with Joey's loss.

    ~There is little progression without some regression~ Hang in there....this just means he's going to grow a little more in his understanding.

  8. well, i have to admit when it comes to discussing someone's feelings concerning the death of a loved one (especially a child's feelings) i still get very emotional. even though it was over 33 years ago when my father was murdered, when i hear stories like this, it just brings me to tears. and that's ok. and i'm glad your children can express their emotions in front of you and vice versa because everyone needs to get it out and not try to shelter each other.

    xoxo lynn

  9. I am amazed at the strength with which you are able to face this and to allow your son to express his feelings as well. I still think about you and your family and hope you continue to feel the love and prayers so many send your way. This picture just grabbed me as soon as I saw it...I love it and can only imagine how precious it is you and will be to Jimmy.

  10. Just thinking of my most favorite person today---you are often in my thoughts and I love you!
    Big hugs!

  11. Aww Jen! I am so glad that your lil' Jimmy was able to express his inner emotions to his sweet Mama! You are being so strong :)


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