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Thread: How do I help these kids?

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    #1

    Sad How do I help these kids?

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    I first posted this in the parenting section, but I thought I might get help here too. I'm 25, married, no kids and not planning to. While DH is in BMT & we're waiting to get to our first duty station, I babysit/nanny to pay the bills. Last December, I started working for a wonderful family in a tough situation. The mom, "Lisa," was a 3-time cancer survivor. She was in remission when I met her, but she was going to be hospitalized in January for a stem cell transplant. She and her husband, "Steve," estimated that the recovery would take 3-4 months and my job would be done around May.
    I knew immediately that Lisa and Steve were great people and this would be the perfect job for me. In no time at all I came to realize what an AMAZING mother Lisa was to her two boys, ages 6 and almost 2. She got home from the hospital in late January. We got to know each other well over long e-mails and talks at the house. I was there 2 days a week taking care of the boys while Steve worked or Lisa got treatments at the hospital. Her recovery was going very well until about 6 weeks ago. One setback led to two, then more complications arose.
    We were all devastated when Lisa passed away this past Sunday. I still can't believe it really happened. She was the most selfless, generous person I've ever known. She was such a devoted, wonderful mother & wife. Her funeral was yesterday -- it was one of the worst days of my life. I couldn't bear to watch a 6 year old boy shovel dirt upon his mother's casket while his baby brother sat on my lap, clueless to what was happening. Steve has asked me to work full-time now. He told me to think about it first, but that was ridiculous. I made Lisa a promise that I'd care for her boys and that's what I'm going to do. There's just one problem: I'm terrified I'm going to screw up, especially with her older son, "Eric." I got to know Lisa well -- we became like family. I know how she would want her boys raised, and she trusted me to follow her blueprint. But how do I navigate through this terrible tragedy? I know from personal experience how quickly and easily a child can be traumatized after a tragedy of this magnitude, and I don't want do that to Eric. He was a difficult child before Lisa's passing, and I fear that the next few months could be a nightmare. I've never cared for a grieving child, and the literature out there is so technical. Has anyone been through this? I want to do right by my dear friend and transition the boys (and Steve, since Lisa handled all the boys' school stuff & activities) before I have to leave them when DH and I PCS. I'd appreciate any advice. Thank you.
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    I'm so sorry for the loss, that is so terrible.

    I was a live in nanny for a man's 2 children. Their mother had recently passed from cancer, and the kids were 7 and 3 when I started. To be honest, working with this family was absolutely the best thing I have ever done, and I wouldn't trade the experience for anything. It was incredible to work with the children and help them through such a tough time. To be able to provide stability, a sense of normalcy and a shoulder to cry on for them during the hard time was absolutely amazing. I was definitely intimidated at first, but I just felt the connection, I had to be there. I honestly wonder how I could ever love a child more than I love those two kids. (As you can see from my ticker, I'm about to find out!)

    If these kids already know you, and you know them, I'm sure that would be really good for them to have the familiar face around. And while there is no guidebook to dealing with grieving children, there are plenty of resources out there for you to learn how to cope and help them cope.

    I think you should do what feels right in your heart. If it is too much for you to handle, there is no shame in that whatsoever.

  4. The best part of my day is seeing his smile.
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    #4
    This just made me cry. I'm so very sorry for your lost. I can't imagine what you and the family are going through. I admire you so much for being there. You are a very strong person and my heart goes out to you and them.
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    #5
    I'm so sorry for your loss of a good friend and for her children and Dh. How very sad and tragic.

    My best advice? Consistency. Their little lives were just thrown upside down. The oldest will act out, but I wouldn't be too lenient from what was previously expected of him. Normalcy is what they need. Stick with their routines of bedtimes, naps, manners ect..
    Be a supportive shoulder but I would really defer any situations to their father. You will be PCSing at some point, so their father needs to be the one to actually be their true rock. KWIM?
    Your heart is in the right place. Just follow it.
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    #6
    Thank you everyone. I think their dad and I will probably have a long talk about all of this next week, b/c that's the kind of guy he is. He'll want to lay out the next few months very clearly. And he will be their rock. He's like Superman. He was Lisa's caregiver for 9 years - she got sick for the 1st time 6 months after they married. The man is a saint. I feel bad counting on him for strength though given that he just lost the love of his life. When it comes to child-rearing, I fall on the strict side. I'm very big on manners, respect. I'm firm but loving, and Lisa was the same way. That's one of the reasons she hired me, b/c we shared this philosophy. I definitely don't want to fall into the "oh let's spoil the **it out of this kid since he lost his mom" trap. Lisa would send a lightning bolt down on me lol. But I also don't want him to resent me or act out against his little brother, which he has done. Eric has a mean streak & I've seen it. I guess I'll just have to do what my mom says, just take one day at a time.

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