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My Children's Grief for the Grandmother They Never Met

Grief is a painful, complicated process that is unique to each individual. Bethany has experienced a unique perspective on grief through the eyes of her children. Both children and grief have the tendency to surprise us and Bethany's story points to the beauty in both of them. It's an honor to have Bethany share her story. 

When my mom passed away from her long battle with cancer, I was a sophomore in college. In the midst of finals, I was burying my mom. I was a Residential Assistant and I didn't feel like a leader. I felt like was drowning. The grief of losing my mom hit me hard. For a long, long time I felt like I had a gaping hole in my life where my Mom should have been, but wasn't.


Over time and because of a LOT of counseling, I learned how to navigate through my grief. I felt mostly healed from the devastation of losing my mom at such a young age. I made it through college graduation, getting engaged, my wedding day, and we welcomed our three children without her. I had reached a point where I missed her, but I had learned to do life without my mom.  Grief is a weird journey. You can be "fine" for so long.

My kids are all under five years of age. Navigating motherhood without my mom was a journey I never wanted, but my children brought such rich joy to my life. I was surprised when they figured out (on their own!) that my husband had a mom and dad, but I only had a dad. This led to us having conversations about my mom being in heaven with Jesus. They seemed to understand it the best way they could for their ages. But it wasn't until we approached the tenth year anniversary of her death, that I felt the magnitude of my loss and my children's loss.


By the time the tenth anniversary of my mom's death arrived, I had been a mom for five years. That week, for the first time in a long time, I wept. I allowed myself to miss my mom. As I missed her being here, I also grieved anew for her absence in my children's lives. The wave of grief struck me so hard, but I was surprised to watch my kids' grieve too. They began to talk about how much they missed my mom. They cried about their loss - how they wished they knew her. And then, these little ones told ME they were sorry my mom died. Watching them grieve for my mom - their grandmother - took me off guard. I didn't expect them to be sad. Their compassion took me by surprise. They never met her so I never considered they would even miss my mom. But I was wrong. They did miss her. As we cried and wept together, we talked about how our hope is found in Jesus. Even when our heart breaks, the Lord carries us. My mom's death has led us to talk about the incredible sacrifice Jesus made on the cross when He died for us. If there is one thing my mom wanted for her legacy to be was to lead people to Jesus. I can almost guarantee she never imagined her death would prompt conversations about the pursuit of Jesus to rescue His people from their sins with her grandkids.

There is no doubt in mind I will probably cry over the loss of my mom again. I still miss her. Furthermore, I'm sure my children and I will continue to talk about her. The hope is that I can keep her memory alive so that my children feel like they know her. But more than that, I hope that our conversations of grief and my mom's death continue to open up opportunities for us to talk about how only a relationship with Jesus can heal our broken and grief stricken hearts.



Bethany Armstrong regularly blogs at www.bookreviewmama.com. There, she shares the books she reads, as well as the books her children read. Bethany lives in Northeast Georgia with her husband, their three children and four dogs. When Bethany isn't reading, she is most likely drinking coffee, doing the laundry or working out. Feel free to follow Bethany on Facebook and Instagram.

1 comment

  1. Gosh, I got so choked up reading this! Praise God He uses EVERYTHING to point back to the cross and the hope we have in Jesus! Thank you for sharing this hard story, Mama. I have a sort of similar experience in that I mourn having a mother - through all those things, dating, wedding day, marriage, holidays, bringing two amazing babies into the world, but my mother made the conscious choice to miss and cut her, my father and siblings out of those things. I hope you can rest knowing that your mother would've adored your babies, your family, the woman and mama you've become. <3

    Sending you a cyber hug!

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