Time waits for no mum: There’s no time to grieve with a toddler

Young Woman Looking Down

My aged grandfather died recently, the first death on my side of the family since our little girl came into this world 2 years ago.

The news came in the middle of our frenzied getting ready-for-the-morning routine and although it was not the greatest of surprises with a gradual and more recently startling decline into dementia, I still desperately craved that space to remember him, grieve for him, cry for him.

When news like this comes, it’s very hard to get the headspace to process and respect it. Whilst trying to get the details from my own mum – my toddler was busy screaming in my ear at the fact that the attention had been turned away from her for 5 minutes. I tried to explain that this was a very important time and she had to be a good girl because Safta (or grandma’s) father had just died which was met with more screaming.

I wanted to sit down and cry and managed to do that with a family hug for about 5 minutes before the little one started getting antsy again.

I desperately wanted to see my grandfather’s face, and set about digging out an old photo from the box which hadn’t been unpacked since our move back to the UK. I wanted to sit in silence and get lost in his face again but instead, had to safeguard the photos from a noisy toddler who was in the usual destroy-everything-in-my-path mode. I settled for blu-tacking the photo to the fridge and sneaking glances in-between the morning’s duties.

It’s not her fault – I kept telling myself  – she’s too young to understand or be able to process any of this.

Although it was his time, and I was relieved that he had been granted release from this life, I wanted to wallow in misery, feel depressed, console my mother, get my head around everything; but instead, I just had to march on through the day as visions of my grandfather flashed up in my mind, and sadness stole its way into my heart in those fleeting moments I had during the day’s mummy boot camp.

If I had the headspace to think, maybe I would have arranged an emergency flight to make the next day funeral with my mum to pay our respects. If I had the headspace, maybe I would have dealt with my emotions better on receiving the news. If I had the headspace, perhaps I would have done a better job at paying my respects to my last remaining grandparent who had just lost their life, but had lost their dignity long before.

The treadmill never stops for mums – and most of the time, that’s fine – but on this occasion, I wish I could have just stepped off for more than a minute or two, to honour the life of my grandfather who had just passed.

Have you struggled with finding the time to grieve for a family member with a toddler in the picture? Please do share here…

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  1. *hugs* That’s really tough, hope your OK. Yeah, kids don’t leave a lot of space for feeling the feels. I hope at the very least she offered a wee distraction and a few smiles that day.

  2. I am really struggling, I lost my dad on Christmas Day, my 3 year old is relentless, I haven’t even begun to grieve and I am exhausted. I was already low before losing him and now I am struggling to function. All the extra christmas & new year bank holidays are over now and I’m back to having him by myself a lot. My other half has been good but he needs to be at work. I need to return to work too soon I just have not had time to get my head around everything and can’t face each and every day, not sleeping well at all, constantly waking as though I keep falling. 🙁 I don’t have a lot of familial support where I live just feel alone and lost but with a constant sidekick needing constant attention when I can’t focus on much more than existing.

    • Oh sweetheart I totally get that – it’s a pity that toddlers don’t! This must be such a hard time for you and I’m so sorry to hear of your loss – in a strange way going back to work may give you the relative headspace you need to process some of this, away from the unrelenting demands of a three year old. Sending many hugs x

  3. Ohhhh that’s so hard. I feel for you and I’m sorry to hear about your loss. I hope even just taking the time to write this down and acknowledge your loss and lack of grieving is in itself helpful.

    I haven’t lost anyone recently thank goodness, but it would have been my mam’s 70th birthday last week (she died at 56 from breast cancer) and I really wanted to write a post and get it out for her birthday. Needless to say, the toddler and baby kept me far too busy so I missed it (it’s out now though!). Not that she wasn’t in my thoughts but I think you understand what I mean – sometimes you feel like the world should stop a moment so you can reflect. Feom experience I also think everyone grieves differently. You’ll find your own time and place when you’re ready xx

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