My daughter was just shy of 7 years-old when her father died and I'm not quite sure how she felt. I knew she was going to miss him but mostly what she talked about was what was going to happen to him once we buried him.
Eventually when she was about 9, she got to "It isn't fair."
She's 10 now and we are over 3 years out. Thomas is off the pedestal and that has brought out a lot more in her. She's looking for reasons and for this to make sense. Lately, she wants to know not just why this happened to him, but why it happened to her. "How did I get here? And I'm not talking about you and daddy having sex, mom." "How did I (emphasis on I) get here into this (emphasis on this) life?"
Now we are a Christian family so the answers in this house center around faith when it's warranted. As the conversation went on she confided that she's (like a lot of us) having a tough time with her faith and she eventually told me it had to do with daddy. She described it as "frustration" and wanted to know how to deal with it.
First I admitted mine. I told her it hasn't been easy to hold on with all that happened, how daddy was so sick, then his death, the problems with the money, not being able to spare her the pain, all that. I admitted I have times of frustration, but I've tried to because of all of the positive things I can attribute to praying, believing, etc. and we talked about those.
I told her I know it must be hard because we miss daddy, but whatever you feel about what happened whether it is sadness, frustration, anger, it's okay. You won't hurt God's feelings. He can handle it. That's why I've stuck with Him. I feel like He's handled all my anger and still loved me and helped me. He's felt sadness and anger and everything else and He'll still love you even if you have to tell him you are frustrated with Him. And I told her that just like God, I could handle her telling me whatever she was feeling about God and about daddy.
Then the flood gate opened. She hadn't broken down like that in quite a while. It was what we would probably call a cleansing cry. I've accepted I can't protect her from the pain and that's been hard. Guiding her through it sure isn't in any way easy, but I feel grateful she isn't closing up. She said she felt much better and we've started some reading as she asked for a book to help her with praying and her behavior. She's Dyslexic so she very rarely asks for anything to read, so it was pretty big, but we plan to read together. I got her a child version of a prayer book I have.
So, it was one of those times my part time job got no attention. I write and transcribe at home part time. Quite a few nights became snuggle on the couch for a movie nights. Weekends were for field trips: one to a farm about 40 minutes away. Other activities for the summer: museums, nature walks, aquariums, and once the weather cooled, the zoo. Those were way more effective for her than worksheets and books alone. Helps my son use up quite a bit of energy too.
I look at him sometimes and wonder when we'll hit these stages with him. Having him meant starting over in a lot of ways. As he grows, I wonder if I'll be starting this journey over in a lot of ways as well. We'll see.