Three boys. Three brothers. One died and never got to meet his little brothers. Two live and will never get to know their older brother. Our youngest is still too little to know much about him, but our middle son, he knows about his older sibling. He knows he died as a baby, and he knows a little about what caused that death.
There are many nights he approaches us with sadness in his heart and tears in his eyes. We always ask him what’s wrong, and what are his thoughts.
“I miss Drake.”
“I miss having an older brother.”
“I wish I got to meet him.”
“I wish he was here so we could play together.”
“I am sad.”
“I love Drake.”
So many feelings that just make it so much worse as a parent, feelings and thoughts our children should not have just yet in life. At 6 years old, my son knows death. Even though he wasn’t born when Drake died, death has impacted his life. Now. Today. Tomorrow. Forever.
My son mourns in his own way the loss of the brother he never got to meet.
To him, Drake will always be a part of this family – his brother, our son – but a part of this family will forever be missing.
He was never able to see or touch, meet, kiss and hug, hold, play, or argue with his big brother. All he has are the memories we have imparted to him, which are so few. But he loves him nonetheless.
He knows the simple reason why his brother is no longer here. At six years old, though, the complicated truth is just too much for him to understand. As he gets older, we will share more. He has that right. The right to know why his brother died, and how his brother died. We mourn the loss of our son, and our other sons have every right to mourn the loss of their brother, too.
Our youngest, in due time, will get to know more about his older brother as well.
At two, he can’t comprehend much, but we share his brother’s name with him. It’s truly devastating that at such a young age we had to introduce our boys to death. They are young, free, and hopeful. But we can’t act as if this tragedy did not occur. We aren’t going to hide the pictures, our emotions, our grief, or stop saying his name.
Drake started carving out his place in my heart the day we found out we were pregnant. His brothers carved out their own spots as well. I can’t go through life faking it, so that left me no choice but to explain to our sons that death entered our lives and took someone very precious.
Death robbed them of their brother.
Death robbed them of memories.
Death robbed them of some of their innocence.
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So no matter how often our sons come to us over the years with tears in their eyes, my arms will always be open to welcome them in while we grieve.
Grieve the loss of their brother.
The loss of the brother they never got to meet.
My boys have the right to grieve in their own way for a loss that occurred in their family, a loss that impacts them. Questions will be asked, and answers will be given. Statements will be made. But they will never bring back the one who is and will always be missing.
My son, at 6 years old, misses his brother that he never got to meet, and that is okay.
Photo by Jordan Whitt on Unsplash