Letter to a Five-Year-Old

Dear Haley,

You must have a lot of questions about Grandma, and I promise I’ll do my best to answer them. Just know that she loved you very much, and although you may not understand now, someday you’ll know that this was her time to go.

Where did she go exactly? I don’t know. I’m not going to tell you that Grandma went to a better place because I don’t know what happens after we die. Nobody does. All I can tell you is that you won’t be seeing her anymore. And as sad as that is, we just have to accept it.

It’s okay to feel sadness. It’s okay to cry. Just know that there was nothing you could have done to prevent this from happening. I would love to tell you that Grandma died because you didn’t clean up your toys or because you didn’t listen to your mom or because you refused to eat your vegetables, but the truth is: you did nothing wrong.

It’s also okay to laugh. This is how I deal with situations most people find upsetting. Maybe it’s how I was raised, or maybe I just see it as the logical thing to do. Instead of dwelling on the fact that you won’t be spending time with Grandma anymore, spend time remembering the moments you shared with her — the good, the bad, and the hysterical.

What did Grandma do that made you happy? What did she say that made you sad? What did Grandma say or do that almost made juice come out of your nose?

Some people will try to tell you that Grandma went up to heaven to be an angel and watch over you. I’m not going to say whether that’s true or false, but I believe the deceased live on in a different way.

When somebody you love dies, that person lives on through your memories. Through all of the stories you have to tell about him or her. Through every sight you see, through every sound you hear, through every scent you smell, through every flavor you taste. Through every little thing that reminds you of your loved one, that person becomes immortal.

And while these memories might not make Grandma the angel some believe her to be, they make her all the more intangible — her life just as permanent as her death may seem.

Basically, wait a few years and watch the movie Big Fish when you get the chance. Then you’ll understand.



Your (in all likelihood, second) favorite cousin


One thought on “Letter to a Five-Year-Old

  1. Pingback: Death As We Know It | Putting It Into Perspective

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