How’s Heidi?

A question I get asked more often than not, and it’s only natural. In this crazy whirlwind I have found myself in, I have a little girl who has lost the first love of her life, her Dad.

A Dad that was supposed to be around for a very long time.

A Dad that was supposed to be there for the many incredible milestones that lay ahead. Her first day of school, first lost tooth, her graduation, fare-welling her at the airport on her first overseas adventure, her wedding day, the birth of a child/children. So he could wrap her in his arms and tell her how proud he was and how much he loved her.

A Dad that was supposed to be there for the hard times also. A bad day at school, her first heartbreak, a fight with a friend, a lost job. So he could wrap her in his arms and tell her it would be all ok and that he’d be there for her and love her always.

Has this kid experienced heartbreak? In the truest form, and I will forever be heartbroken for her. Having to tell Heidi that her Dad died will go down as one of the worst moments of my life. I still feel sick to my stomach even thinking about it.

So how is Heidi?

She’s good and I mean that honestly.

Let me tell you about Heidi.

There is so much to love about her, but what I love most is that she is an absolute joy seeker!

What do I mean by this?

If you are lucky enough to know Heidi, you will know what I mean. She loves to be happy, she loves to laugh. She brings a smile to everyone’s face. It’s hard not to smile around her because she is just soaking up everything life has to offer with complete joy! I love nothing better than sitting back and watching her with her friends as she runs around like mad, giggling her head off. I love watching her smile when she’s doing something that makes her happy, a smile that goes right up into her eyes and fills her cheeky little face. She likes to feel good and so she goes for it. Does this mean she’s hitting me up for treats 24/7? Yes! Do I care? Not really. You don’t know unless you ask, hey Heids?

I think we could all take a leaf out of Heidi’s book when it comes to living life, feeling good and seeking joy.

But it’s not to say that we don’t have down times. And I say ‘we’ because it’s something we are in together, every step of the way.

What’s a down time? Trying to get a child to go to sleep that just misses her Dad and wants him there. A child that feels different from her classmates and almost embarrassed by her situation. A child trying to understand why her Dad died. A child seeing first hand that the world isn’t always roses, when she’s so small and innocent. A child feeling grief and all the emotions that go along with that. A child facing the presence of other Dads at birthday parties, school events, parks, cafes and feeling her own loss. The list goes on.

But we’re making our way through those feelings together. We have begun talking about our days/grief as if we were on a roller-coaster. At any time during the day, I can ask her, ‘how are you feeling on the roller coaster, show me with your hands’. Sometimes we’re on a high like nothing can touch us, and other days we’re feeling on the bottom of things. Some days we’re up, down and round and round. It’s been a good way that she can show me how she’s feeling at any time, without always having to use words. That way I know where she’s at, and she can also know where I am at too. I believe in being completely honest with her about my feelings too, I have nothing to hide and I don’t want her to either. But each day is a new day and a chance for us to start the roller-coaster again.

Child bereavement is so hard. You’re not only handling your own grief, but also trying to care for and help a young child handle their own. It’s not a juggling act you ever anticipate and I feel so out of my depth, often. The good times are good, and the bad times are tough. It’s as simple as that. No one can prepare you for it and each child is so different in the way they grieve (just like adults) so it’s difficult to plan for.

Heidi feels good for now, and that’s great. But I know her grief will evolve and we may face some pretty challenging times over her life as she fully grasps the magnitude of her loss.

I am beyond proud of my daughter and I am so grateful for her, and her beautiful nature.

We laugh together, we cry together, we bicker like two old women, but she is amazing. I’ll never stop telling her that and I’ll be beside her every step of the way, no matter where the roller coaster takes us.

 

Losing a husband, also meant losing my ability to have another child with him. Read more about my experience of this here.

 

Image: Stefani Driscoll Photography