When we lost our daughter and the boys lost their sister, months later I was reminded how much “stronger” the boys would be, as they had already gone through so much. lt is true that they certainly have a different empathy toward grief and that the experience has more than likely changed them in certain ways. This was evident when asked recently whether they wanted their new sibling to be a brother or sister. All 3 of them (the ones that could talk properly) answered that they just hoped for a healthy baby that lived. This of course is nothing new for adults, but probably not the response of most 7, 9 and 10 year olds. Maybe therefore it has made them just a little more grateful than they may have otherwise been. Maybe they hug their new brother just a little bit harder than they would have had they not known the pain of losing a sibling. But for all that they have learnt from this experience, of course I wish they were lessons their little minds never had to endure.
What I have learnt from this whole experience however, is that it is not just surviving the bad times that help makes us more resilient, but it is the good times too which become equally important in arming us with the tools to deal with future upheavals. Certainly previous experiences can make you better able to recognise some of the emotions and can help you call on past coping strategies, but I firmly believe that it is the good times we experience that can help play a major role in dragging us out of our initial grief.
I myself had an amazing childhood, full of wonderful experiences, great relationships, and thankfully the absence of too many bad or traumatic experiences. I now see myself as having a fair amount of resilience and one of the reasons for this is that I know how good life can be. I know that there are memories that I already have and ones that I will continue to create with my family that will remind me to pick myself up. When times get difficult for us, it is the moments of peace, the successes, the relationships and all our passions in life that we must call on.
So rejoice in the fun times with your family, enjoy the everyday, even the seemingly mundane, and enjoy those relationships with all you hold dear. These are the moments and memories that will become one of the most useful tools for yourself and your family in building the foundations for a resilient life.