We had only found out two weeks previous to his death he had lung cancer so it was a BIG shock.. I had the hardest job of all telling my children!
Myself and Lee sat down and decided Daniel and Lewis only needed to know grandad was very poorly but we decided Adam and Chloe needed to be prepared and are old enough to understand about death etc. We told Adam and Chloe and understandably they were very upset. I took them to see grandad in hospital and give him their pictures they had made him.
Four days after they saw him he sadly died at home surrounded by myself my siblings and my mum. I went home that night, got Adam and Chloe up and showed them the only shining star that was out that night. I asked them what they could see in the sky and they said a bright star. I said do you know who that star is, they both looked at me and went is it grandad has he died? I replied yes grandad has now died, he is not in any pain but he will always be looking down at you as he is the very first star you see every night and he will come visit you in your dreams and talk to you.
They obviously got upset but Chloe turned round and said grandad won't be poorly all the time now will he? To which I replied no he will be totally pain free from now on. This cheered her up a bit. The next morning we sat the twins down and explained to them that grandad had died and had turned into a twinkle star (they both love twinkle twinkle little star song). Adam and Chloe started crying, Daniel picked up on the emotion and cried too, Lewis just looked at us all, shrugged and carried on eating his breakfast. He didn't pick up on any emotion or show any emotion whatsoever.
That night we all went outside and waved to the brightest star up in the night sky and blew kisses to granddad. This has been a ongoing routine since grandad died and it seems to help the children a lot.
A few nights later Lewis started with questions. He asked how did grandad become a star, so I replied when he died he grew wings and turned into a angel flying up into the sky to heaven where god turned him into a star. To this he replied where did the wings come from did nana buy them... then he started saying why did he need wings why not just get a ladder and go up to the sky? We explained no ladder in the shops is big enough to reach the stars to which he replied well why didn't he go in an airplane and then put ladders onto the plane and climb to the stars?
This was very hard and went on for over a hour and if I'm honest he went to bed with no answers cos we just couldn't give him the answers he wanted. This to me is a typical response for Lewis as fairy tale versions to him just don't make sense at all and he just wants simple facts even at the age he is.
We then had the funeral to deal with and Adam and Chloe both said they wanted to go. I was unsure but knew they both had classmates who had attended close relatives funerals recently so I went into school and spoke to their headteacher. I knew Daniel and Lewis weren't capable of going to a funeral, they wouldn't have sat still and behaved etc and they were better off at school, especially Lewis as he wouldn't have been able to handle the amount of people who would attend.
The childrens headteacher told me to let Adam and Chloe go the funeral, she said it would make their grandad's death final to them help them grieve and be a education to them that life does end in death. She said she encourages children of 7+ to go family members funerals so I said they could go.
My stepdad who was the best dad and grandad I could ever have asked for was brought home Tuesday, the day before his funeral. My mum had his coffin open in her living room so we could all pay our last goodbyes etc. I didn't think it was good for the children to see grandad like this so didn't let them go on the Tuesday. They knew he was at nanas house though and on the day of the funeral we went to my mums house to gather together for the funeral procession. I told the children to stay in the kitchen or back garden.
Adam then decided he wanted to see granddad, he had a drawing for granddad. After we discussed that grandad would look asleep and made sure it was something he really wanted to do I agreed. Chloe wanted to see him also by then. Myself and my mum took them to the room grandad was in. They were both so brave I am so proud of them, they placed their drawings on top of their granddad, kissed their fingers and placed them on his head. My babies were so grown up and composed neither of them lost it or cried.
I think seeing grandad so relaxed and peaceful helped them see for themselves he was no longer in pain. I know a lot of people will judge me for allowing my children to see a dead person but in all honestly until you are in the situation yourself you shouldn't judge and I really do now believe seeing him has helped them a lot.
The actual service went well. I did a poem, Adam and Chloe cried alongside the rest of the family, they sat with Lee who has been such a great support to myself and the children. Then it came time to go to the grave. Chloe couldn't handle this and once grandad had been lowered she lost it and had to be carried away crying and screaming for her granddad. At this point I felt terrible for putting my children through this.
By the time we had got back to where the wake was she was fine again and ate loads and played and giggled and of course people kept giving both children money to which they thought was great. Since the funeral three days ago neither of them have cried or asked for granddad. Each night they take the twins into Chloes room look out her window and wave to the star they see and seem more content with whats happened.
Now as a family we are learning to live without a great person who we will love forever and hold close to our hearts. For the children they will always see that first star each night as their grandad saying hi and good night, telling them he still loves them even if he isn't here and that thought is one of the nicest thoughts I personally think they can all have.
Rest in Peace Paul you will always be loved forever x