Posted by: Jody Glynn Patrick | 08/24/2015

When your grandchild dies….


Kaydin and Rene

They oftentimes are the forgotten soon after a tragedy, yet bereaved grandparents suffer greatly and forever, too. This post reminds us all that parents are not the only ones affected when a child dies; the loss touches grandparents, siblings, friends, co-workers — our entire world. My thanks to Rene Dillard for being able to put her anguish into words to share with others who walk her path. This is an excerpt from a comment she posted just today regarding the aftermath of the death of her grandson Kaydin:

September 16, 2014 is the date that I lost my precious grandson Kaydin. I was driving home from a job interview and received this strange phone call at about 8:00 pm from a number and person I didn’t know. She said my daughter had been in a car accident. I asked if Kaydin was with her and [she] didn’t say anything for a minute – then she said she really doesn’t know anything. I could hear my daughter in the background yelling and cussing (as she does) and I thought, well she sounds fine so I thanked the lady and finished driving home. About 20 minutes later I get the call from the EMT’s asking how far am I from the hospital; he asked me to head that way, safely. I again asked if my grandson, Kaydin was in the car and he told me “the little guy is in another ambulance and [I really don’t know] his condition.”  Kaydin had already died.

I get to the hospital right behind the ambulances carrying my daughter and grandson. I rush into the ER and am told to have a seat someone will be with me shortly. The EMT comes out and asked me some questions, still nobody will tell me the condition of either my daughter or Kaydin. Then they take me to this little room with a couple of volunteers. You are not placed with “babysitters” unless it is bad, but I could not let myself think like that. I just kept telling the lady and gentleman  that if my daughter was hurt, than Kaydin really needs me because he will be scared to death. It took [the doctors] 45 minutes to finally come talk to me and they start off telling me about my daughters internal injuries and that they need to complete surgery. I asked about Kaydin, the doctor finally tells me that “he didn’t make it”. That was it, he didn’t make it. My world crashed with those few words….HE DIDN’T MAKE IT.

Now it is almost 1 year later. My life has changed forever. I was out of work for a couple of months to care for my daughter and  so I could try to heal….I laugh at that because I don’t think you can heal from this kind of loss. I now go to work every day, I cry every day, I make dumb silly mistakes, I cannot have a rational discussion with co-workers. My employer has been very patient, but I don’t know how long this will last. I take vacation days as fast as I earn them because I need to home. As much as I have tried, I fall way short of being the person I was before HE DIDN’T MAKE IT. I paste a smile on my face and do the best job and can for 8 hours, 5 days a week. When Friday rolls around I am exhausted from trying to pretend I am okay. All I can do on the weekends is sleep. I try to plan some kind of outings to make me get out and get around people. Sometimes I actually follow through and get out, but cannot wait until I can leave and get back to the safety of my home. Other times I don’t make it out, I try but just don’t have energy.

I know I am not alone, there are so many of us that have lost children. But, like me I think a lot of you are putting on that fake smile and trudging through and then hiding in your homes where you can be with your feelings and your child. I talk to Kaydin daily. I just keep praying that each day I put on my make up and do my hair and put the fake smile on that it will get a little easier, the smile comes a little easier, the social commitments become fun again instead of a distraction. But when there is this huge whole / void in your heart, you just cannot think that far ahead, it just seems impossible that you will live life again with the joy that you once did when you had your precious child/grandchild in your life.


  1. It never gets better. My daughter passes 3 years. My pain is worse every year, you can’t come back. Sorry

  2. Dear Rene, I am so sorry for the loss of your beloved grandchild Kaydin. I am on this site because of the death of my precious daughter Lindsay about 2 1/2 years ago, aged 26. Your pain as a grandmother reminds me of what my mother always says about the loss of her closest grandchild, Lindsay a year after my brother, her son died of cancer. In my mother’s mind, she has “lost two children” not one child and a grandchild. This is because of course she knew her grandchild from birth and spent so much precious time with her as she grew up. In my mother’s mind, Lindsay is her child too, not simply her grandchild. And as I incorporated into Lindsay’s grave marker, Lindsay was a child of all of our related families and our whole extended family lost one of its children.

    You described so eloquently the way that you feel and I still feel today. In fact, before I read your post, I used those very same words with my counsellor, that I now trudge through each day, that when I have to go outside, I put on what I call my “outdoor mask”, when really what I prefer is to hide inside my house and be alone with my feelings and my lost child. You are entitled after such a catastrophic loss to feel this way. Unlike you, I still cannot bring myself to talk to Lindsay each day, it is still too painful. My best friend occasionally says things to me for which she has the best of intentions, but for which I have no reply. The other day she said to me, “Life is too short, you have to start enjoying yourself again, come on.” There is no possible reply I can make because she simply cannot understand that the day has not yet come when I have reinvested in my life, and so many of the things I used to enjoy were because I shared them with my daughter. Thank you for for sharing your story and describing so eloquently the grief we all share on this site, Rene. I am thinking of you, your family and Kaydin today.

  3. Thank you for the kind words. And I am so sorry to hear about your daughter.

    I wish I could say it helps me to feel a little better, but you know as well as everyone on this site that nothing really helps. These last couple of days I have felt more lost than usual, I don’t know if it is because the anniversary of Kaydin’s death is just a couple of weeks away, or if it is something else, but I have spent the last two days at work crying the whole time. I am lucky that I have my private office and my work does not require me to interact with others very much, so I can cry my way through the day. I am just so tired, so very tired.

    My daughter who is 28 seems to have moved on – not to say she doesn’t still grieve, but she seems to finding some joy in life again. She recently started dating this boy that she has been friends with for a while and he is very good to her. She likes to be out and around people. Right after the accident she started drinking a lot, and it was getting her into trouble, then one day she just stopped, she said she realized it wasn’t going to bring Kaydin back and it didn’t make the pain go away – she says she will live her life with joy so that Kaydin’s memory is not marred by her grief. She still has panic attacks periodically, but has been very strong. But for me, there is no joy. Kaydin was my child in almost every sense of the word. I was there the day he came into the world, I was the only stability that he knew, my home was the only home he knew (my daughter moved around a lot). He came over every weekend and every Sunday when it was time for him to go home he would cry and want to stay. As my daughter went through some hard times she left Kaydin with me and disappeared for about 3 weeks, it wasn’t until I told her I would file child neglect charges that she finally came home.

    I always told Kaydin that I would keep him safe – and I feel like I failed him, I couldn’t keep him safe. I have some pent up anger towards my daughter because #1 – she should not have been out at 8 pm on a school night with Kaydin, he should have been home in bed or getting ready for bed (he was only 5 years old) – not heading over to some friends house to play video games. And #2 I have heard rumors that my daughter has admitted to some that she was trying to find a song on her cell phone when the accident happened. Can you imagine how angry I am with her, but I can’t express my anger to her because I don’t want to hurt her any more than she is already hurting. I keep telling myself that her and God know the truth and it is between her and God.

    I have a best friend who lives in FL (I live in NC). We have known each other for over 35 years. She came up for the memorial and has been a great friend through the last year – but like your friend, her heart is in the right place, but she just cannot understand that I don’t want to go anywhere, I need the safety of my home. She keeps trying to plan things like trips to get me out – but I cannot do it, I don’t want to go, I know she means well, and I really appreciate her efforts.

    I like being home alone – sometimes I imagine I can hear Kaydin upstairs in his bedroom playing or see him sitting at the top of the stairs asking “Nana, when are you coming to bed”. I sit at the foot of the stairs and picture him at the top and I talk to him. He used to put his lower lip out in a big pout, and I would laugh at him and tell him “Its not going to work, put the lip back, its not going to work”….then we both laughed. His favorite spot to sit was on the arm of my recliner. He told me back in July (14) that he was going to buy me a Barbie doll for Christmas so I could practice playing with it – then maybe I would be better at playing Army men with him…lol. He was just the cutest little man. He saw on TV once where the man was holding a door for a lady and asked me why, so explained that this what gentlemen do – a week or so later we were at the Cracker Barrel and he ran up to get the door for me, then he held it open for everybody else – after about 5 minutes I asked him to let another gentlemen have a chance….I was beaming with pride as all the customers were thanking him. If I was watching TV and he didn’t like the show he would ask me “Nana, do you think we could watch something we both can enjoy” which usually meant he wanted me to turn on his Mind Craft game.

    It just isn’t fair, why would God give us such a precious little one just to take him way so soon. I think sometimes I need to go into a hospital or mental place because I just don’t think I can go on I just feel so lost and tired and like I am going crazy. How do others seem to move forward and I just stay in the same spot.

    • I honestly can’t imagine how I would cope if my grandchild died in a similar situation. My son died as a result of another person’s actions and I’ll never forgive that person (especially since she expressed no remorse or even acknowledged her responsibility). Yet you love your daughter and know that she never intended for Kaydin to be harmed, even though she did not act responsibly at the time. What a painful and complicated tragedy.

      • It is a daily struggle. On the night of the accident I remember asking God why did he take Kaydin, why couldn’t he take my daughter instead. I felt bad after I said it, I didn’t want to lose either one of them, I didn’t mean it.

        I get through and continue to love my daughter because I am not the person who should be judging her – it is between her and God. The two of them are the only ones who know the absolute truth on what happened that night. And to be honest I could not bare losing my daughter now too. No matter how angry I get at her, she is my daughter and I love her.

        And she knows how much I have been hurting since he died. And she is truly sorry for the pain I am in. She understood the connection that Kaydin and I shared – it was special.

  4. Rene, it sounds as if you kept Kaydin safe in every way possible that was under your control. The way he was killed was not within your control, yet all of us on this site who have lost precious children feel that in some way, we failed them. It has taken me almost three years to finally realize that I did all that I could with the information I had available to me, and could not control that which I did not know. I hope in time you will also come to some realization that there was nothing that you did that in any way contributed to Kaydin’s death, and that in fact, you did not fail him, but gave him a wonderful grandparental home to come to in which he felt safe and warm and completely and unconditionally loved.

    As to the need to go somewhere else and be cared for, I know exactly what you mean. Our society is so uncomfortable with deep loss and grief, and expects us to bounce back, when years ago, we would have been hospitalized in so-called “convalescent homes” for months, even years, to help us heal from such catastrophic loss. I have often said this to my counsellor – we would not have been expected to recover quickly and “move on”, a phrase I now detest with all my being. Some of us just need to be cocooned and soothed and cared for. i am fortunate that my husband has done just that, and has been very accepting of my need to grieve the death of the most precious person in my life, and of the time it will take, and of my need to sometimes just stay in my room or in my home. We each grieve differently and your pain is so deep, your loss so tremendous. I am thinking of you today.

  5. I am sure others feel the same, but I go between thinking I have just had the most wonderful dream about this beautiful little boy that came into my life, to thinking I have been caught up in a nightmare and I will wake up to find Kaydin standing over me “Nana, did you get enough rest, are you ready to go play”.

    I spend a lot of time (even though I try not to) thinking about all the things that he did not get to experience. He had just started kindergarten and was worried he wouldn’t do good, he was telling me how worried he was because he didn’t know how to spell TREE – I laughed so hard and then told him that is what school is for, so you can learn to spell and reminded him of all the words he could spell – then he went off on all these other words that he didn’t know how to spell – WIND, BIRD…etc. He wanted to lose a tooth and see what the tooth fairy would bring him, all his friends had already lost at least 1 tooth and he had not lost any yet. We had this wonderful Disney Cruise lined up for his 6th birthday that would have been the next month – we were all so excited about this cruise and swimming with the dolphins and sting rays,, and I had talked with the cruise line and lined up all the extra bells and whistles that they do for birthday’s – we didn’t get to go.

    The last weekend I was graced with him we decided it was time for him to learn to ride his bike with only 2 wheels. After about 30 minutes of running back and forth trying to hold on to him I told him we would work at it again next weekend when he came over and I would get some help – we never got that next weekend.

    Within a couple of weeks of his death I took everything down in his room, I washed all his linens and folded them and put them away, I packed up all his clothes for the good will, I went through all his toys and gave some away and others took to Good Will – his room was completely cleaned out. After about 3 days I could not stand it any longer – I put everything I still had back, I remade his bed, put some books and toys I still had on the bookshelves, put the pictures and stickers back on the walls. It just felt better that way, it took me another 7 months before I finally did take it all down for good.

    It is all those first that he is going to miss – the first love, first date, I was so looking forward to being there and helping him through all his firsts.

    • Unfortunately, the “missing out” goes on and on, day after day. My son was robbed of so many opportunities and moments that he (and we) had looked forward to. My daughter (and now only living child) had her first baby recently. My son had wanted to be an uncle (and a husband and a father) and never had the chance. It is heartbreaking.

  6. Well, I survived the first anniversary of my grandson’s death. It seemed like the couple of days just prior were so calming, I was feeling so good I thought about canceling the planned PTO, but decided to go ahead and take the day off and do something fun. Must of been the calm before the storm.

    We have all heard of God’s timing – well it hit hard the evening of the 15th, the night before the anniversary of Kaydin’s death the medical records I had been trying to get for a few months finally arrived. My daughters came in a few weeks ago and I read that she had THC and cocaine in her system (she denies ever having cocaine). It was so hard to read about the compressions, intubating, PEA and all the other medical terminology. Basically he died at the scene but they continued to try and revive him for over 50 minutes during the ride to the hospital and at the hospital. The accident happened about 8:10 PM and he was pronounced dead at 9:25 PM but had actually died of cardiac arrest at the scene.

    What set me off was I read over and over again “No Car Seat”….nobody had mentioned this to me before – in the police report it just said that he did not have the shoulder harness on – in the ER nobody said anything about the car seat or lack of. My daughter never said anything about not having him in a car seat…..then I started adding up all the “mistakes” she made – 1) had him out on a school night when he should have been in bed or getting ready for bed 2) Her roommate told me that she confessed to her that she was looking for a song on her phone when the accident happened 3) Kaydin did not have the shoulder harness on 4) drugs in her system 5) and finally no car seat….any one of these on there own could have been the killer, but you add them all up and Kaydin didn’t have a chance.

    So needless to say the 16th, the 1st Anniversary was hard. I cried a lot through out the day. I kept looking at Kaydin’s picture and saying how sorry I was, he did not have to die, it was stupidity and carelessness by his mother. I want to blame her but like I have said in so many other posts, only God has the power to judge, as her mother my job is to protect her now, I am sure she has punished herself enough for her stupidity.

    But I am here to tell you all, you will survive, no matter what, life and time keep going on. The pain that causes you to crumple to the floor eases off some, the huge tears slow down. The memory of your wonderful child though never fades. I remember those first few months especially – I thought I could not go on, the pain was so intense. I was scared of having to live with that pain for the rest of my life. As the days moved to weeks and then months you don’t even realize that so much time has gone by – the first day you go all day without crying you don’t even remember it – the first time you laugh at something on TV, you won’t even realized that you just laughed out loud it will sound so strange. You do survive, there can be life after the death of a child.

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