Grandparents Don’t Die, They Live In Our Hearts

· September 8, 2016
The greatest legacy our grandparents leave behind is nothing material, but instead consists of their experiences and values that will carry on long after they are gone.

Grandparents never die, their legacy carries on and they live on quietly in our hearts.

In a society so focused on material possessions, there are few things that enrich our lives more than the memories of affection, shared stories and special moments with our grandparents.

Many of us have a favorite grandmother or grandfather that we often remember. What’s more is their presence lives on in our family legacies every time we do something that was unique and special to them: baking a cake using their recipe or treating a sore throat with one of their home remedies.

We keep their memory alive by focusing on what’s really important in a human being’s life: the memory of those we love and the people who mean the most to us.

We’d like to invite you to reflect on that with us today.

How to say goodbye to our grandparents

One of the most complicated moments in life is having to say goodbye to a grandparent during childhood. As adults, loss has a different impact because we have so many resources at our disposal to deal with this painful fact of life.

Also read: Your Siblings, the Best Friends You Never Chose

What is the best way to help a child say goodbye to one of their grandparents? We’ll show you a series of steps you can take that will help.

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When little ones are hurting

Every child experiences pain when dealing with the loss of someone important to them. It’s something that’s unforgettable, and although a child may seem fine, they may provide subtle hints to some of the internal pain they are experiencing.

Child experts recommend being honest with children and being careful with your choice of words. Don’t use metaphors like “Grandpa is with the angels now,” or “Grandma is just resting.”

  • Avoid using phrases that may confuse a child. Since this is their first experience with death, they should know what it means: no longer seeing the loved one, but learning to remember them with love each day.
  • Something else to keep in mind is the need for emotional release. Don’t hide your grief to prevent your children from seeing you’re in pain, because they may start to see this as acceptable or preferable to expressing emotions.
  • Don’t be afraid to let yourself and your children cry if needed.
  • We need to be able to recognize when a child is hurting. They will likely not be able to process what has happened until later. It can be seen in their drawings, silence and even nightmares.
  • Another mistake that many parents make is to keep their children from being able to say goodbye to their grandparents or prevent them from attending the funeral. Whether we like it or not, saying goodbye to a grandparent that has passed is all part of a child’s mourning process.

Obviously, a child’s reaction to the death of a grandparent depends on the child’s age. However, we can assume that after age 6 or 7, a child is already receptive to this hard fact of life: we all must say goodbye to our grandparents eventually.

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The legacy they leave behind

A grandparent may leave behind a house, an apple orchard or even beautiful silverware hundreds of years old. However, none of this means anything in the language of the heart.

Grandparents were once the parents that helped us to become who we are today. Granted they may have made mistakes, but that doesn’t outweigh all the good they did for us.

Also read: Celebrate Success and the People Who Support You

  • The legacy a grandparent leaves behind is therefore tremendously significant. They symbolize family roots and a common identity that we cannot and must not forget.
  • A child forever treasures the moments they share with their grandparents. Because this relationship is different from the one with their parents; it’s warm and purely emotional.
  • A tapestry woven with thousands of stories, afternoon walks home from school, they live on in our memory. This memory is much like a dish with an unmistakable smell that we still remember or a voice that we will never forget.
grandmother

Saying goodbye to a grandparent who has done so much for us is never easy. However, growing up and maturing means have to confront these painful goodbyes.

You should read: Life Is Not the Same After Losing Your Parents

Even though they’ve passed on, they’ll live on in our hearts invisibly and continue to care for us. And we will keep them alive through the precious gift we all share: the ability to remember.

Brown-Standridge, M. D., & Floyd, C. W. (2000). Healing bittersweet legacies: Revisiting contextual family therapy for grandparents raising grandchildren in crisis. Journal of Marital and Family Therapy. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1752-0606.2000.tb00288.x

Gilrane-McGarry, U., & O’Grady, T. (2014). Forgotten grievers: an exploration of the grief experiences of bereaved grandparents (part 2). International Journal of Palliative Nursing. https://doi.org/10.12968/ijpn.2012.18.4.179

Stewart, A., & Dent, A. (2008). Supporting Families. In Unexpected Death in Childhood: A Handbook for Practitioners. https://doi.org/10.1002/9780470988176.ch10