Today, July 4th, marks 7 months since Tinsley died. More than half a year. It doesn’t seem possible… and like my therapist, reverend, and other loss moms predicted, my living children have continued to process Tinsley’s death as time passes. Here are some of the new questions they’ve asked:
- Is she hungry in heaven? How does she get food? Does God go to the store for her? Is there a store in heaven?
- Does she get to wear shorts now that it’s hot outside?
- Is she lonely without a friend? (friend is his terminology for stuffed animals he cuddles at night for security)
- How does she know where she is going? Does she have a car seat?
- Is she bored? Can she watch Paw Patrol?
I told him the truth, which is that we don’t know what heaven is like but we know that she is safe and taken care of there. She is not cold or hungry. And maybe God does go grocery shopping.
- He also was confused about cemeteries, thinking all the gravestones represented babies. I clarified for him that it was just the little Angel’s Walk where the babies were buried, and most of the other people here died because they were very old. Since Tinsley was his first experience with death, he assumed only babies died– that it was the norm, not the exception. Of course that led to questions about how old you had to be do die, when I was going to die, when he was going to die, etc. I have told him that we are all healthy and have a long time to live.
- Just the other day Charlie also asked if babies continue to grow taller after they die. Will Tinsley be a baby in heaven forever or will she get older and bigger?
He’s basically asking the questions that I ask, just with more concrete language. I also want to know if Tinsley will be a baby when I see her again.
- What exactly killed her? He wanted to know precisely what happened–what malfunctioned in my tummy?
- He has prodded me to see if I had done something wrong — something to cause it. Did I drink too much juice? Maybe I didn’t eat enough fruit. Did I play outside when I shouldn’t have? He was doing exactly what I initially did — try and find a reasonable, rational explanation for this horrible thing happening.
- After some consideration, I showed him the pictures of the knot in her umbilical cord. James studied the hell out of them, and it helped him have something tangible to point to and say “this is what did it.” And it assured him that it couldn’t happen to him.
- But then it led him to wonder,”Why did Tinsley die but not me?” To tell him it was just an accident and accidents just happen sometimes brought him face to face with the reality that it could have been him… a brutal truth for a 4-year-old.
- He was also confused about who normally dies. The dog of one of his good friends recently died and when we told him, he said that couldn’t be because only babies died, not dogs.
So needless to say, questions are continuing to come in as they process, and we’re doing our best to answer truthfully but not overwhelm them with information that can’t handle.