Remembering those we have lost
By Chris Kovatch
The holidays are a time where we focus on giving. We focus on everything that is joyful and good. Happiness and togetherness abound, but inevitably in all of the good things, the hurt we have experienced begins to creep in and catches us by surprise. For many who have lost loved ones this time of year often brings sadness instead of joy. I have often wondered how I broach the subject of loss with my kids. It’s a fact of life; there is no doubt about that. But at what point should this become a topic I need to broach with them?
Growing up I was fortunate to not really lose anyone that I was close to until high school. My grandmother passed away when I was 17. I am so fortunate to have so many great memories of time spent with her and my grandpa. I even find myself using phrases they used or making food for my kids that I always enjoyed at their house.
My kids haven’t been as fortunate as I was. They have experience loss from an early age. Although the impact is different based on how young they were it is still something we have to explain. So how do I do that? How do I put something in terms they understand and without causing them to stress over the topic?
Rosie and I participated in an event this past weekend called Wreaths Across America. We spent Saturday morning placing wreaths on the graves of Veterans in Beaumont. We were instructed to place the wreath, read the name of the individual, and salute. As we began placing wreaths and Rosie read their names, she began to ask questions about the wars they were in or comment on how long ago that they were born. We came across a few headstones that were for children and that’s when it really sunk in for her. These pieces of stone with information etched on them were people.
Later that day we delivered a wreath to my wife’s grandfather’s grave. All of the younger kids were with me. And so began the task of answering their questions. Thayer announced if he had a super power he would be a kid forever and never die. He said he would be like Peter Pan, but cooler. Rosie commented on what it would be like if we were reborn as babies. I decided not to broach the topic of reincarnation with her. Then out of the blue Summer asked if George Washington had died. When I answered in the affirmative she was quite concerned as to who our leader was. We laughed and joked as the questions continued to flow. I told stories to them about their PawPaw Ken and about their great grandparents. I answered questions no matter how ridiculous. You see the important thing is that they were talking. We were discussing a difficult subject on their level. Sometimes levity is necessary to handle the tough subjects.
As were headed home, one of those moments that make you realize you just might have this parenting thing down occurred. Thayer looked at me and said, “Dad, it is important to remember people we have lost but we have to make sure we live too.”
Well said Thayer. Well said.
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