Toddler Grief

Esther and William are a little over two and a half.

At the end of July they will be three.

Born at 27 weeks.

13 weeks too soon.

They spent their first 59 days in hospital.

The next four months in almost isolation.

No baby classes.

No large family events.

Nowhere that they might catch a cold

Or come into contact with a virus.

Theirs’ was not an easy beginning.

We have a lot to explain to them when the time is right.

How they were born.

And before that, how they were conceived.

And after that, how their beautiful baby sister died.

We have, of course, told them that Baby Tilda has died.

They often tell us.

Sometimes totally out of the blue.

Baby Tilda has died.

She’s died.

I am realising more each day

That though they are repeating the words

They have no idea what they mean.

They say many times each day that Baby Tilda is in the sky.

They have started looking up for her.

They wave to her out of the window.

They wave with their lovely gold star wands from Anna at The Imagination Tree.

They keep asking us to go up to the sky and get her.

They want us to bring their baby sister back.

And they look really puzzled when we say we can’t.

They do not understand why we won’t bring their Baby Tiger back.

It is heartbreaking.

They love blowing bubbles for Baby Tilda.

They adore looking at pictures of her.

Esther today asked to look at pictures on the television and listen to Baby Tilda’s song.

We watched the photo montages I have made.

At every photo Esther said, There is Baby Tilda!’

She said to me between videos,

‘I miss Baby Tilda’.

Yesterday my friend came round with her 10 month old boy.

Baby Samuel.

Just one week younger than Matilda Mae.

Esther and William were so good with him.

It made me so sad.

They should be strengthening their bond with Tilda.

Their relationship should be growing.

Blossoming with Spring.

It makes me so sad that she is not here.

I am sure it is effecting them too.

When Baby Samuel was coming Esther and William looked all around for some baby toys for him.

And of course there are none. I have put them away.

It was too painful for me to keep them out.

But maybe for them, I should have left them where they were?

Seeing Samuel copying William and following him around the room made me think of what might be with my three.

We all miss you, Baby Tilda.

We miss you so so much!

How do we make sure that Esther and William know that she is never coming back?

How do you explain death to a two year old?

We think that they have got it but then they will ask why Matilda is not in the car.

They will ask why Baby Tilda is not in her highchair.

They will ask if Tilda is up in her bed.

I don’t think they really understand that she is gone.

Why should they?

How could they?

They are so young.

Too young to have been through all that they have already been through.

They were just beginning to get used to having their baby sister around.

And now she is gone.

She is died.

And I am not sure they even know.

They say she is with the stars.

We say she is beyond the clouds.

We look for her, talk to her, wave to her.

But she is not there.

And they really do look.

They are really trying to see.

The sister that they miss so much.

They are trying to understand.

The words that mummy and daddy keep saying.

Baby Tilda has died.

She is in the sky.

We cannot see her anymore.

We can look at pictures and we can remember her.

We can blow bubble kisses.

Write her name in the sand.

But we will never see Tilda again.

We will never see our baby again.

How do you help a two year old to comprehend that?

I would really really like to know x

15 thoughts on “Toddler Grief

  1. I do not even know how to explain this to myself. I hope that someone has somethign better to say than I do! My heart breaks for you all. One day they will understand. Right now they live with the bliss of ignorance.

  2. jennie I wish I could tell you how to make them understand it will take time. I thought Buster understood but in November we went to his garden(grave) for his birthday and when we got there Buster started looking round and asked when R would come for his birthday.
    Thie innocence is lovely but can hit so hard at times.
    Sending love x

  3. You will keep her memory alive for them. They’re lucky to have parents who talk to them so honestly and openly about their baby sister, and because of your openness, they will carry Baby Tilda to adulthood with them, never forgotten.

  4. It is so hard for us to understand how can they possibly? They will in time and you being there and keeping Matilda Mae’s memory alive will help you all.
    Hugs x

  5. Oh Jennie this is heartbreaking to read. Perhaps it is almost kinder that they don’t fully comprehend. It will sink in over time. But It must tear you both to pieces the things that they say. And just look at them in that first picture. They are miracles themselves – little champions. You have all been through so much xxx

  6. I always start to write a comment on your posts and end up deleting and rewriting it so many times. I don’t know. I have tried to imagine how my 2 yo would be and I can’t. Williams face in teh bubble picture is beautiful. I think it says so much. Sending love as always xx

  7. I remember when I was barely 4 I lost my great grandfather and great grandmother in quick succession. My parents explained that they had gone on a long-long trip to somewhere they could never come back from because it’s that far. I think the journey is a good metaphor to use. They can probably relate to a long trip in the car and explain that Tulsa has gone on a trip a lot longer. Hope this helps. x

  8. jennie, have you been referred to Winstons Wish yet? they have some great resources, and this page particularly helps explain how grief can be for younger children.
    My children were aged between 4 and 13 when their little sister died. The four year old was very matter of fact about it all, but he simply didn’t know what “died” meant. he just knew that we were “sad all of the time”. Even now, (he’s 7) he will come to me with new realisations of what it truly means for his sister to have died.
    My youngest now is a similar age to your Esther and William, and I can imagine his reaction all too easily to this awful situation.
    Greiving and caring for greiving children at the same time is hard, so bloody hard.
    Just keep on keeping on, in those early days all I could do was that, remember to breath, put one foot in front of the other and eventually you don’y have to think about breathing.
    I’m so very sorry your Matilda Mae is not safe in your arms. x

  9. Pingback: Matilda Mae Poem @Edspire #MatildaMae | Mum in a Hurry

  10. I don’t know what to write, I want to write so much. My Twinkle is 2 and ahalf. She was born just over a year after Finley died in labour. She knows his name, she knows his photo, she knows that the grave is also Finley. She talks about him, but she doesn’t know the word death. She doesn’t know the sadness. I have no idea how to tell her.

    Some words in this stood out – in hospital with Finley, he stayed with us 3 days and on the last day our midwife asked me what I wanted my last memory to be. I broke down and said I just wanted to change his nappy. She helped me bathe him, dress him and I put him in his pj’s and read him a story. That story was about a baby Tiger lost in the jungle. I held my baby my arms and read the words we missed you baby Tiger.

    I imagine you have the same book x

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