Grief is tough. Trauma might be even harder. I struggle back and forth between which one might be worse. We both struggle with PTSD as well as grieving the loss of our girl. At 27, it’s HARD to deal with all of it. I try to give myself some grace on days that are just plain harder than others. I’m an adult and for the most part, I can sort through feelings and at least attempt to tackle them.
Then I look at my sweet six year old. He was only five when his sister was murdered. And goodness, he’s had to deal with so much else on top of that. Finding a balance between giving grace on the tough days and maintaining healthy rules and boundaries is a daily struggle. At six, he doesn’t have many coping outlets. He’s absolutely amazing at expressing how he’s feeling through words, but sometimes he just gets overwhelmed.
I can promise on those weeks in the beginning when I was only seeing him a measly two hours a week, it was devastating to punish him. He was miserable, he was testing boundaries, his heart was crushed and he had lost everything. However, I knew this season was temporary. I knew when it was over, I wanted a child that still had healthy boundaries for his rough days. I remember one visit specifically where he got mad about something and threw his toy down during a fit. I knew he needed a time out to breathe. I cried and cried after he left because I was heartbroken spending any moment of those visits feeling like I had to be the bad guy.
Some weeks I feel like I nail it. We have lots of talks. He does great at school. His attitude is lovely. Then those rough weeks come along where it seems like I can’t quite get anything right. Those days where I can tell the night before I dug deeper when he couldn’t sleep to see what was bothering him so we could work through it and we both pay for it the next day with exhaustion. Should I have made him just go to sleep? The days where his attitude is just not that great and I try to just make it to bedtime because Lord knows my attitude is better some days than others. Should I be more strict and not accept the crappy attitude? It’s a constant balancing act.
Last Friday he got in trouble at school. I gave him a lot of grace over Christmas. My heart ached for weeks. While he didn’t know it, we had learned Jayda’s murderer had asked for a plea deal. I had been passed on a message from him that majorly threw me out of wack. I did my best to keep moving forward and make it through the holidays and the the plea deal. I had nightmares every single night for over three weeks. It hit me Friday that it was time to pull it back together. Talk through our healthy ways to grieve again. Get his attitude in check. He was grounded for the weekend for the first time. (P.s. you quickly learn you are really also grounded and it just sucks for everyone soooo just a heads up on that one.)
He’s had an amazing week at school. We’ve spent the week talking through the things weighing on him and really focusing on a good attitude. I’m so proud of him. There’s a few things that remain constant through this though. 1. He knows how much I love and adore him. Every single day. Even hard days. 2. He knows he can talk to me about absolutely anything. Some of those things hurt, but he knows his feelings will never go invalidated. 3. Cuddles. So many cuddles.
One thing that punched me right in the gut that we learned through counseling is that it’s actually not healthy to totally hide your emotions from your child. I would always wait until he was asleep to cry. I’d hold it together while I held him in my arms while he cried. I tried to hide it thinking I needed to be strong. I was so wrong. Your babies need to know everyone feels grief. It’s ok to let them know you’re sad too and it’s normal and healthy to cry when you need to. Then show them that after you get those tears out, you pull it back together and keep on pushing forward. ❤️