I have been asked a lot about how we handled our grief in front of Rowan. I think there is this misconception that bereaved parents need to try and be happy or remain positive for the sake of their surviving children. The truth is, it’s not realistic.
I was a wreck, and so was my husband, my parents, our siblings, and our friends. We grieved, and continue to grieve without stifling it in his presence. Rowan didn’t need to see us pretending to be positive in the wake of his brother’s death. He needed to witness his family members being human. He needed to see that it’s okay to express emotion, that it’s okay to FEEL what happens to you, and that healing comes with facing those emotions and trauma, not with covering it in a positive film.
Rowan has seen us at our worst, barely hanging on. He sees us make mistakes, watches us lose our patience, holds our hands when we cry. He sees us wearing yesterday’s clothes and dirty hair, washing the same load of laundry three times because we forgot during the fog of a triggering day or week. He is not a stranger to our emotions, our grief, our faults, or our triumphs. It is important he understands that life is messy and that’s ok.
Motherhood has taught me so many things, but the biggest lesson thus far, is that my child is worthy of so much more than being sheltered from the messy stuff. The best way for him to learn how process his grief and express the way he feels, is to watch us lead the way.