Posted by: Jody Glynn Patrick | 10/19/2015

A Grandparent’s Grief After the Death of a Child

Kaydin X. Dillard

Kaydin X. Dillard

From Rene Dillard, a message which we posted as a comment on 8/24 — it shows the loss to grandparents, too, when a child dies. The devastation. Too often, grandparents suffer in silence. It is great to have Rene’s perspective to share and we thank her for sharing her heart and a glimpse of Kaydin, who was killed when a car his mother was driving was in an accident. We only mention his method of death to help frame this letter so you can better understand the content references:

The below is a letter I wrote to my family trying to express my feeling as the one year anniversary of my grandson, Kaydin’s, death.

The 1 year anniversary of my precious Kaydin going to heaven is fast approaching and I have spent some time going through cards, emails and Facebook looking at the wonderful things you all had to say about Kaydin and all the prayers our little family received. I cannot remember if I replied to everybody or even thanked you all for the blessings and prayers, so I wanted to make sure you know how much you all have meant to Kasey and me through this last year.

Kasey is healing nicely. The stiches down her stomach and abdomen have finally healed. She had internal bleeding after the accident and it was caused by 2 punctures in her intestines and 1 cut in her bowels. Because of where they had to make the incision (straight down her stomach across her belly button) it took a really long time to heal and made her very uncomfortable. She also had some stiches on her thumb, lots of bruises and some damage to her knees / legs that will require more surgery to fix. Right now she can’t be out of work the 6 to 8 weeks they say she will need to be off her legs, so she is getting by with Tylenol and drug store knee braces. Kasey has been a very strong woman during this trying time. To have your child taken from you is the hardest thing a person can go through and she has handled it like a champ. She still has panic attacks that come out of nowhere – she says she starts sweating, cannot get her breath and then the crying and shaking comes. I wish there was more I can do for her, but it is just something that she is going to have to come to grips with. She refuses to drive; she has no desire to get back behind the wheel again, and I can’t say I blame her.

During my grieving I really did not think about all of you guys and how Kaydin may have touched your lives and that some of you grieved or are still grieving for him. I have been wrapped up in my own little world of pain and sorrow. I apologize for that. One of my neighbors was telling me that she really missed him when she came back from the normal summer trip up north – she said last year he was the only one that ran up to her the first time he saw them and hugged her and told her how much he missed her – she said everybody else just wanted to know what she brought them  That was my Kaydin, so loving and caring. His Sunday school teacher is always telling how much she misses his smile. Kaydin touched many lives in his short time on earth.

Kaydin was very special to me as you all know. I was not the best mother in the world; I lacked consistency and other motherly skills that seem to come so naturally to some. But I was a GREAT Nana!!! Being inconsistent is like a prerequisite for being a grandparent. I had Kaydin almost every weekend if not longer for the almost 6 years we were blessed with him and we did so much together. He was my everything, we cooked dinners together, we worked in the yard together, we swam at the pool together, and we went on fun vacations and adventures together. Every part of me was wrapped up in every part of Kaydin, so when he was taken from us I nearly lost it. I think I did lose it for a while. I struggle now trying to find myself again. Getting out in the adult world is not as easy as some would think. I still see a new park or playground and think “Ohhh, Kaydin is going to love this”, but then the reality of his absence comes rushing back.

I think that has been the hardest transition, to go from an almost full time Nana to just plain old Rene’ again. Those of you who have lost children probably know exactly what I am talking about. There is this huge void in our hearts and lives that will never be filled and it cannot be explained to somebody who has not experienced it. As time goes by I don’t think that the pain diminishes, but it is more that we learn how to hide it better or coupe with it better, or at least that is how it is for me. It hurts as bad today as it did a year ago – but I have gotten stronger and am able to put on the smile and actually enjoy myself all the while hurting deeply inside. I am still happiest when I am home alone, I like to look at his picture and talk to him about the things that have been happening. Kasey likes to be around people, she likes having the distractions. When I get around a lot of people I have panic attacks like Kasey’s. You have to retrain yourself – so I make sure I plan some kind of outing every weekend. Sometimes I never make it out of the house, actually never make it out of my PJ’s, on the occasions that I do go through with the plans I cannot wait to get back to the house, I will have fun with others, but my anxieties are heighten and I am not very comfortable until I get back home. This is a new experience for me; who is normally an embarrassing extrovert. Before I was mostly an optimistic fool, now I feel like the worst possible pessimist. People tell Kasey and I that we need to find our “new normal”, I am not sure that is obtainable, nothing feels normal any more – it is all so different.

In the last year I have watched the children around me growing up, getting ready to start back to school and moving on to new grades and classes. I cannot believe how much some of them have changed and it gets me thinking what would Kaydin look like now; how tall would he be, would he still like to wear his hair buzzed off or a mohawk, would he have been a good student. When God took him he was 5 years old with a birthday coming up the next month, now he would be almost 7 years old and it just sounds so old.

But life is always full of good times and bad times. This just happened to be one of the worst times of my life. I will never stop trying to convince God to give Kaydin back to us, I talk to him several times a day asking what can I do to get him back. But I know God took him for a reason and I will not have him back until I get to heaven and I look forward to that day when we can be reunited – I can see him now, running across the clouds and jumping in my arms saying “NANA!!!! Where have you been, I ‘ve missed you”.


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