Parenting a sibling after loss

If you read my blog or know me personally you know I have a son Bobby that is 14 months older then Jonny. He had just turned 5 two days before his brothers aneurysm and passed on the day of his birthday party; imagine that devastation. I can still remember singing with the cake that Jonny made with my mom for Bobby while he was at camp. This was the first time the boys were separated; I thought it would be good to prepare them for Bobby going to kindergarten. Little did I know our world was about to be demolished. They would be separated forever.

Now here I am…..trying to navigate losing my child while parenting his sibling. There is no book on this. There is no right or wrong answer to the crippling questions he asks. I still remember his first few questions. One being in the hospital. I was told I should let him say goodbye. This decision still haunts me today because I’m not sure it was the right one. “ I can see him breathing; why doesn’t he just open his eyes”. At that moment my son attempted to open his brothers eyes and what he saw still haunts him and I can’t take it back. If you have ever seen what I’m talking about about you know…. he talks about it in emdr; he is confused about what he saw looking back at him because it wasn’t his brothers eyes. God I want to throw up writing this. The second question was the morning we returned home without him. It was Bobby’s birthday party day. Friends asked if they could still bring him gifts; I said yes because again I had no idea what was the right thing. I took Bobby to bathroom and as I was barely functioning kneeling in front of him he said “ mama do you think Jonny is watching my party”. The first in heaven question …..I just said of course he is.

This month I decided it was time for Bobby to take a break from therapy. He has been going for almost two years and has put in so much work. I made this decision after feeling him becoming resentful of his brother for dying. He began to say he wasn’t sad anymore as a way to get out of going. Of course he is sad. But I knew it was time to give him a break. Again I don’t know if it’s the right thing but I have to do what I feel is best for him. The therapist agreed and is there whenever we need her again. I’m positive we will.

One of the biggest obstacles of parenting a sibling after loss is how to keep their bond going. We talk about Jonny everyday. We take pictures with us on vacation. We celebrate his birthday. We watch videos. But as time goes on and Bobby gets older; I struggle with this. I want him to always count him in his sibling count. I’m terrified of the day I hear him leave him out or say the dreaded words “ I don’t have a brother anymore”. Part of me knows it may come but I pray it doesn’t. I worry that he will get sick of listening to me incorporate Jonny or forcing him to hold the framed picture. Let’s be honest it’s not normal. I know that. But nothing about our life is. I see the anxiety in my son and it kills me. I see the way he looks at siblings. I see the hurt in his eyes when he watches the videos and wonders where that fun life went. The innocence of him was torn away. I can love and nurture him but I cannot give his brother back and I cannot give his innocence back.

I’m just trying to be the best mom I can with a broken heart.

Published by Jonny’s Mama

Bereaved mother trying to navigate life after losing my son unexpectedly at 3.5 years old.

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