Tonawanda News

Features

June 2, 2013

CRIB NOTES: Concept of death a difficult one for kids to grasp

Tonawanda News — Believe it or not, even this humble scribe occasionally makes a mistake or two.

Unfortunately, this one isn’t really correctable.

In all my years of writing this column, in all the words I’ve typed, I’ve never once mentioned Nana. She is Sarah Patti, Penny’s and Rigby’s great-grandmother.

She passed away last month at age 85. Every single time I saw her, she told me what a good job I did in writing these stories. She showed them off to relatives and friends with a pride often reserved for a child’s most important accomplishments, like high school diploma or Nobel Prize.

More importantly, she loved her family. She always sought more time with Mommy (her granddaughter) and the kids, willing to soak in every moment she could get.

Her passing was the first one Penny and Rigby have experienced of anybody they were close to in any way. Dealing with loss was, obviously, a learning experience for them.

Helping them deal with loss was also a learning experience for me.

Rigby had a bit of a hard time grasping the true concept of mortality. At one point, he said he would wake her up when he saw her with “true love’s first kiss, like Snow White.” The sentiment was so sweet I wanted to cry.

He also had difficulty with the idea of a soul. He could see her, he reasoned, so how could she ascend anywhere? He asked if Nana still loved us. He didn’t understand why we bury people. He had dreams about her.

Above all, of course, he missed her. So did Penny, who lamented the fact she’d had an unofficial date with Nana to make homemade gnocchi at some point. The realization that point would never come was tough for her to take.

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