Monday, July 5, 2010


I thought I'd post about Jack's response to Sybella's death, to give him a bit of a look-in, and also, to help anyone out there who has an older child experiencing the stillbirth of a sibling.
I've gone over some of the basics of his response...his inital lack of understanding of the concept of death, the way he chose to process it, his overwhelming grief at Sybella's funeral.
Upon coming home from hospital after Sybella's birth, Jack was still wanting to rub my stomach and kiss "the baby" that he thought was still in there (needless to say, I still had a touch of Mummy Tummy). He was able to tell us that Sybella had gone to help Jesus, she had gone to Heaven in a rocket, and she couldnt come home. He seemed accepting, but I put this down to Jack thinking that death was transient, not permanent. It wasnt until the funeral, where he had his little silent meltdown that I think it hit him that Sybella had died and what that meant. I am sure that he thought we were supposed to take the baby with us, and the reason I think this is because of his subsequent behaviour at preschool. When it was time for him to return to preschool, he panicked and cried when I dropped him off. This was new behaviour. He never cried during the drop off, he loved preschool. I think that his concept of permanence was cemented by his sister's death. His teacher, Jon, wondered if Jack was scared that I was going to leave him at preschool, the way I'd "left" Sybella in the chapel. He thought Jack was scared that I wouldnt pick him up again. That seemed like a good explanation, except it has been about ten weeks now, and he is still crying when I drop him off. So I figure that Sybella's death has affected him more than he lets on.

At night, immediately after returning from hospital, I would say good night to Sybella, and Jack would listen to me. After about a week of this, when we got into bed, he said "Mummy, talk to Sybella." He wanted me to talk to Sybella, say goodnight, tell her I loved her. Since that night, he has made sure every single night, that we say goodnight to Sybella. It has become a ritual. He talks to her too. He tells her that he wants to buy her a pink dummy, and some toys to play with. He says to me "Mummy, you miss Sybella. And I miss Sybella. She's my best girl." And it breaks my heart. He is such a fantastic big brother, and his sister isnt even physically here. I am sure he is bewildered by the whole thing, and I feel so sad for him that he doesnt have a sibling to play with. Because he is so ready for a sibling. He loves other kids. He is kind and gentle with them, he cares about them. I have picked him up from preschool and he has told me that "Amity was crying, she wanted her mummy, so I cuddled her." He has such a nurturing side for such a little boy. He loves babies. His best friend Samuel has a brother, Lachlan, who is 8 months old, and Jack is besotted with him.
Sometimes I hear him in the backyard, singing a song he has made up about Sybella. He loves watering her plant.
Jack was breastfed until he was 26 months old, and as a result, he has an...affection for boobs. He likes to put his hand down my shirt for comfort sometimes. Of course, this is not appropriate and I often tell him that boobies are only for feeding babies and giving them milk, not for big boys. I told him this while I was pregnant with Sybella, whenever he tried to cop a feel. He obviously took notice, because last week, I found him lying on my bed, shirt pulled up, boy nipples exposed. I asked him what he was doing. "I am showing Sybella my boobies, because then maybe she will come back down." It was such a powerful moment, and I laughed and cried at the same time.
I am very lucky to have Jack as my son. He has been my blessing and my guiding light in the depths of grief. He, alone, kept me going. He isnt perfect, but who wants a child that is perfect anyway?! I like them with a bit of spunk. Makes life interesting. He is light and breezy and happy-go-lucky. And as far as I'm concerned, he is Brother of the Year.

1 comment:

  1. He is just gorgeous, such a beautiful soul. You are truly blessed Steph to have such a wonderful little man to help you through such a tough time.