Many of you have asked how the kids were doing. I’ve been meaning to post about that for a while, too, but have been a slacker.

Halle is just 19 months old so she does a great job walking and babbling and having tantrums. Understanding complex ideas? Not so much. For all I know, she just is having a good time getting to be at Nana and Papa’s for an extended “vacation.” She’s loving it (except for those tantrums I mentioned). I had her home very briefly, but the real test will be when we’re back home for good and seeing if she wanders around looking for Mommy. Expect that day to be soul-crushing if it happens.

As for Brady, I got great advice from folks at a place called Cornerstone of Hope, which was started by a family who lost a young child and now they minister to people who are grieving. I also received some books and pamphlets about toddlers and death. So, I was prepared to explain it all to Brady as plainly as possible (i.e. not using alternative phrases for things like “she passed on”). The night I had originally planned for it was the Thursday immediately after Stephanie was gone, but decided against it because of how the night was going and it said that kids remember how and when they found out and what they were doing. Heart-breakingly, Brady asked me that very night, “Why Mommy no love me long time?” He was afraid that Mommy was at home or the hospital and didn’t want to see him. I reassured him of her love for him and prepared to explain everything Friday morning.

It went well. I reminded him of Mommy’s seizures and explained that it was why she was at the doctor’s and why Brady and Halle were at Nana and Papa’s house. I told him that they had been trying to make her better, but she was too sick and the doctors couldn’t make her feel better and so she died. That was followed by talk of Heaven and how we’ll be with her again someday, but now we can’t see her or talk to her. She won’t be at home, but Daddy and Nana and Papa and other family members and friends would make sure he and Halle were taken care of. I told him that Jesus could pass along messages to Mommy if we want to tell her we miss her and love her. And he’s allowed to feel anything he wants; that even Daddy gets very sad or mad or worried or scared. He did a great job with all of it. We then drew some pictures to put in the casket (which I also explained – “her body will be in a box, but it’s just her body and not Mommy”). He even told my uncle and his second cousin that Mommy is dead now and in Heaven. He seems to get it. He asked to go home that day, which we did, and he just played with his toys while we were there, which I’m told is a healthy sign.

He will occasionally tell me he loves me and then follow it with, “And I love Mommy.” There have been a couple comments from him where I thought he might still not be sure, but when I ask him about it, he actually understands even more than I had thought. He’s a very bright kid and has a great memory, so I’m not surprised by his grasping of things. I’m still angry that they don’t have their mother, but at least they’re doing okay about it.

13 thoughts on “Kids”

  1. What an answer to prayer that Brady (and Halle) are doing so well. I’m impressed by how you handled it all, and it sounds like you received some incredible advice. We’re continuing to pray, but thank you so much for updating about the kids. I’ve been wondering about how they are doing.
    We love you all!

  2. I am amazed that you connected with Cornerstone of Hope so quickly. It is an amazing facility and will certainly be able to guide and support you and your family on this journey. God bless you all.

  3. I was also wondering about the kids and how they were doing. I have been praying for you guys every day! It does seem like Brady is handling it well, though I too am angry and sad that they don’t have their Mommy. I was in tears reading about how you handled the situation with Brady. I know that must have been the hardest thing to do, but all that said, I think that you did a great job in explaining things to him.
    Sounds like you had some great advice. You remain in my thoughts and prayers everyday!

  4. Appears that Cornerstone of Hope is living up to their reputation…I have heard some tremendous things about this place. We simply continue our prayers for you, Brady and Halle…we include you in our family prayers, I mean, after all……right? Seems stupid to say our ‘family’ when we are all God’s children…but you’re all there…every bedtime. Your situation has given our family a way to talk about these things with our children. THank you for your candidness and honesty in how you are handling all that has been thrown upon you.

  5. I wanted to share some ideas that my kids and I have done to help their special memories of their dad. I asked both of them what they remebered daddy liking to do and they gave me a list of things from hunting to riding horses with him at a carnival we went to right before he died and from their memories we filled a “daddy box” full of things they could play with. I found toy deer and horses and put in golf balls and his watch and some of his shirts among other things and it is just for the kids to play with. As they get older, I plan on adding more things that are too breakable for them to have now. My son was missing daddy pretty bad the other day so we put together a mini photo album he can carry aroung in his pocket, it seemed to make his heart a little lighter. There are alot of things we have done to keep memories close, because while my son remembers alot, my daughter doesn’t as much. But kids amaze me at how resilient they are. Their memories remind me of things I forget about. It is good for both of us.

  6. Sounds like you handled the situation amazingly, as usual. It’s just the worst thing in the world to have to tell your kids. I think that is the worst part about everything… the kids not having a parent. But you will do your best and as people have always told me, they are possibly loved more than some kids that have both of their parents. I am sure they can feel the love of Stephanie and just like they will help you get through this, you will help them. Your family unit will be stronger than ever. And the kids really did amaze me with how resilient they were. I think in some ways, the fact that they are young is helpful because they just adjust to the situation because they don’t know any better. Before you know it, they will be used to the three of you. That being said, I’m sure you will always have questions. I know it’s been almost 2 years and I am dealing with a different set of issues, because they were so young at the time. But I’m glad to hear you are getting useful information and help from friends and family. I have heard of that Cornerstone place but never went there. I may have to look into it. It breaks my heart to know what you are going through, but keep your faith. You will be okay and so will the kids. It’s awful but you will be okay. I have a few quotes that I love that often remind me of the triumphs or the every day things I deal with or of my loss. I thought I would share those with you…

    “I think a hero is an ordinary individual who finds strength to persevere and endure in spite of overwhelming obstacles.”

    “Everybody wants happiness. Nobody wants pain. But you can’t have a rainbow without a little rain.”

    “In the end, it’s not the years in your life that count… It’s the life in your years.”

    Always here if you need to talk. Continuing to pray for you and the kids.

  7. Bless you Brad. Whether we tell you or not, you are in our daily prayers. Your children will be a source of support and healing. I am so thankful too that we have a Savior that weeps with us, stays with us during our deepest trials. Christ will never leave you and truly feels the pain you feel. We love you friend.

  8. Hi Brad,
    I lost my dad when I was 12 yrs old in a tragic car accident on Christmas Eve. I was crushed to my very soul, as I knew him and had him in my life for 12 years. I had younger siblings that were babies or toddlers at the time. They never really “knew” him. Keep treasures, memories and all you can so that your kids will truly know Stephanie and her love for them. When I was going through this “wilderness” experience, besides the love of God, family and friends were the ones who held us up and helped us through. Never be afraid or unwilling to ask for help or receive it. Continuing to keep you and your family in my prayers.

  9. Brad, Jim and I continue to lift you up in prayer daily. We just got back from a visit to Louisiana to see Dave and Karen and their children. I can’t even imagine what Dave would do without Karen. We are praying for your little ones and are thankful that your parents are close by to help out. As in-laws and grandparents we can feel the ache they are dealing with as well. Give them our love.

  10. It’s a great thing that Brady is handling this so well. If you ever need some help with the kids, feel free to contact me. Jo has my info.
    Still praying,

  11. Brad,
    I am so glad to hear that Brady and Halle are doing ok. My heart continues to ache for you. I know it is just the beginning of a different life you will experience with your children but no less wonderful and blessed in its own special way. You are doing an amazing job. I wanted to say how beautiful the funeral service was. I am thankful for the program that had the family picture on it. I placed it on my refig and pray for you and the kids every time I see it (which is alot!). I am reminded of what a blessing it was to have Stephanie in my life, if only for a season, and to cherish the everyday things. She was able to bless so many people in so many ways in only 33 years of life. I hope to share Christ’s love like she did.

  12. Hi Brad,

    I have yet to succeed in reading one of your entries without balling like a baby, but am so encouraged to hear how God is working through you and in you. It sounds like you’ve done an awesome job of helping Brady understand what is happening and I remembered when my daughter Sharron had her first encounter with death. My dad had died from cancer and she was about 17 months old. We didn’t think she understood very much of what was going on around her until we saw her with one of her fellow playmates at the funeral home who was crying and overheard her telling him “It all right. He in heaven now.” Never underestimate their ability to grasp a situation. They might not be able to verbalize it, but they can ‘get’ it. We’re still holding you in our prayers and Rosie and Becca always have arms available for both kids ;-)

  13. Brad what can i say? Only that i am so so sorry. And as for the kids doing better well that is a miracle in and of itself. Keep your head up high because right above you is Jesus and your beautiful stephanie. She’d be proud of you :) I continue to pray for you each night that eventually you will feel better. This will never go away but certainly you have your family w, you through this time and forever. You have your beautiful memories and your children which are certainly the best of both of you and your wife. Together with your children and your family you will trail through deep waters that may look hopeless. But It will get better. Keep your head up high. And always talk to Jesus. Brad your story is sad but it’s also beautiful. Bless you

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