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How My Husband and I Keep the Spirit of My Father Alive with Our Kids

How My Husband and I Keep the Spirit of My Father Alive with Our Kids

Talking to your kids about loved ones who have passed can help keep the memories alive.

Raising kids can be a challenge on any given day. It can be even more challenging when you’ve lost one of your own parents—from not having the built-in support system to your kids not knowing their grandparents. One local mom shares how she and her husband are addressing the latter and keeping the memory of her father alive.

My 20s were a whirlwind. I am sure it’s a feeling many of us share. I graduated college at 21, met my future husband at 22, started grad school at 23, then got married at 25. I finished grad school and had my first baby just a few weeks apart. I was 27.

My Dad died when I was 29. And since that day, everything in my life has been divided into two parts: before Daddy died and after.

His death made me the first among my friends to lose a parent as an adult. Trust me, that’s not the kind of distinction anyone wants. As many people will tell you, the loss of a parent is something from which you never truly recover. The lucky ones among us figure out how to keep moving forward.

Our daughter turned 5 last summer. When she was born, my Dad was nine years into his battle with kidney disease. With medication, lots of doctor’s appointments, daily dialysis, and copious amounts of support from my Mom, our extended family, and their friends, he was managing it. December marked four years since my Dad passed. In December our son, named after my Dad, also turned 3.

It’s hard for me—for both me and my husband—raising our kids without my Dad. Grandpa was a role he was born to play. Almost from day one he jumped into the deep end. There was no greater gift the world could’ve given him than becoming a grandpa. Unfortunately, our time together was cut short; he died when our daughter was 17 months old. Our daughter doesn’t remember him, and our son is still too young to comprehend the loss. But we talk about my Dad a lot.

Keep talking. It’s one of the lessons I learned from the death of my grandmother when I was young. My parents and aunts and uncles never stopped talking about my grandmother. They talked about her so much to the point that my two younger cousins—one who was too young to remember her and the other who was born after she had passed away—can tell the stories and family lore almost as well as the rest of us.

I talk to our kids because I really thought we would have more time with my Dad than we got. I talk to our kids because I want them to know how proud he would’ve been of all their accomplishments, both great and small. Talk to your kids about loved ones who have passed because you love them, and you want your kids to know how important this person was (and still is) in your life. Talk about them because you know how much they would’ve loved your kids.

Talk about loved ones who have passed because your kids will do or say things that will remind you of them. Share with your kids the things that brought those loved ones joy. You never know when you will find a shared passion or a simple moment of appreciation. I wish my Dad was here to get to know our kids in all of his three-dimensional glory, but I do the best I can both to honor his memory and to connect our kids to the grandfather they will never know.

The ability to talk to our kids about my Dad is one of the greatest gifts my family gave me. Now I’m hoping I can inspire some of you to share that gift with your kids as well.

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