Grief through a child’s eyes

This morning Toby found a lovely picture of Rory on the iPad. We both had a look and Toby said he was sad he didn’t get to feed Rory. I said I was sad too.

For the first time ever Toby asked if we could have a different baby. I wasn’t sure what to say so my reply was ‘it’s not that easy’. I was met with an ‘oh’ and he went back to watching Thomas the Tank Engine. 

Toby has been a star this year and he understands way more about loss and sadness than anyone of his age. This makes me so sad, no three year old should have to comfort their mummy and offer her a tissue or see her cry for no apparent reason.

In the early days when I cried Toby would ask if I was sad about the baby and after time he would ask if I was sad about Rory. He understands that his little brother is with the stars.

However, in reality Toby doesn’t understand what losing his little brother really means as he never had the chance to play with and hug Rory or even moan about him crying or taking his toys. If you never had it, it is hard to understand what you have lost.

I do recall a conversation one lunchtime where we talked about feeding the baby when it was older and how fun and messy it would be. This seems to be Toby’s reference point for what he has missed out on as he often says he is sad that he didn’t get to feed Rory. This Christmas should have been Toby’s chance to slip Rory some carrot at the dinner table and laugh when it was smeared everywhere. 

The question about having a different baby took me by surprise. I know it is likely to get asked more and more particularly when other babies arrive and Toby will inevitably wonder why they didn’t die.

Having another baby is not at all simple, it involves a huge cost – financially, emotionally and potentially to my health. I wish I could explain all the fears and risks to my boy but I can’t as although he is wise he is only three and has a lot to deal with as it is.

There is a small part of me that is pleased he asked the question as it shows me that he loves Rory even though he is not here with us. Hanging on to that thought makes my battered and bruised heart sing a little louder!


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