Grief: Expected and Unexpected (Thoughts From a 10-Year-Old)

by Xander

Personally, I think this is a lot for a person to handle. Having lost my brother, Theodore James Rhynold, and my Nana, Susan, me and my family have been going through a lot. One thing I have learned is that there is actually a very big difference between expected grief and unexpected grief. I lost my Nana to cancer on November 3rd, 2013, and my brother Theo for unknown reasons on February 3rd, 2014, exactly 3 months later. Losing my Nana was especially hard because she was a person who had always been there in hard times, and she died 3 days before my 10th birthday. I also found losing Theo equally as hard because I was already in rough shape from losing my Nana, and he was supposed to be our little bit of joy after losing Nana. My mom remembers one of the last things she ever said being “I can’t wait to meet Theo.” I am surprised that she got to meet him so shortly afterwards, in heaven.

One thing I will always remember Theo by is the joy he brought us when my mom was pregnant with him. It is especially easy to remember my Nana is by all of the people she helped along the course of her life. Having worked at a high school, she was able to help many people, maybe by encouraging them, maybe by helping them in hard times, and maybe just by being there to give that helping hand. (She did similar things at the ATA, where she was referred to as The ATA Mom.)

I know it is especially hard for my little sister, Genevieve, because she doesn’t quite understand. She sometimes asks me if we can play with Nana, or go visit Theo. (who she likes to call Baby Theodore. My friends and I used to wonder how long after he was born she would still call him that.) I always tell her that they are in Heaven, which she understands quite well. To her, Heaven means that we can’t see them anymore. It is sad, but when we have each other to get through it for, we can.

Also read The White Circle: A Dad’s Perspective
“Where is Baby Theo?” and other questions asked by my 2-year-old


13 thoughts on “Grief: Expected and Unexpected (Thoughts From a 10-Year-Old)

  1. zhaia

    Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts and feelings. I hope you find peace knowing that your Nana loved you very much. She was a very special person. I got to know her when I was in high school, I was one of the kids she was always nice to when I came to the office (which was a lot, because I was always late). I had not seen her for many years, but last year when I was diagnosed with cancer she reached out to me. It meant so much to me that she cared about how I was doing when she didn’t feel so great. I think about her often and in my own way I am paying her back for her kindness. I got to visit her in the hospital and I brought her flowers and a balloon for her birthday, I am thankful for those days. I know you miss her, and Baby Theodore. Keep them both in your heart, where they belong.

  2. Haven Witherspoon

    Xander, beautiful words. I’m so sorry that you are having to go through this. You and your siblings are so young to go through so much grief, especially in such a short time. Know that you and your family have so many people around you who love and care for you all, and that it will get easier, in time. You are wise beyond your years young man, and quite a good writer, too.

  3. Mindy DeVries

    Xander, you are a terrific writer! Your grandma was such a wonderful person. She helped me through some hard times–she was always the best listener and a very sweet person Your blog entry was written so well–I feel like I understand your feelings more after I read it. I hope I get to read more of your writings!! I will be thinking of you all during this hard time.

  4. Susan Moore

    Thank you for sharing Xander. Beautifully written from a big brothers perspective. Yes this is a lot adult to handle much less a 10.year old. You’ve got so.many.people you!
    Aunt Susan

  5. Melanie Torrie

    Very astute writing, Xander. Thanks for sharing your experience; I know it must have been difficult. Your Nana would be very proud. I didn’t ever meet Theo, but I have a sneaking suspicion that he would be, too. He’s very lucky to have a big brother like you who can give him a voice and explain, one day at a time, all the things to Genevieve that he cannot say about why he couldn’t stay. ❤

  6. Christi Mckeag

    Thank you for sharing your experience with us. You have been through a lot lately, but I think your Nana and Theo are very proud of the things your family has done to remember them since they went to heaven.

  7. Robin Schinnow

    Thank you Xander. What a wonderful big brother you are to Maddy, Genevieve and Theo! And I feel so lucky you are my friend. My daughter Laura is especially lucky to have you in her life as well. One thing I have always noticed is how nice you are to her and to your sisters. It was so neat to read what you wrote. You guys are going to make it through this together!

  8. 2fab4over50

    Xander is an incredible young boy; so clear and well spoken. Some of us that have grieved in the recent past can learn from his words. Your parents are proud of you for being present enough to form words and sentences to transfer your feelings. An accomplishment for an adult; but amazing from a 10 year old.

  9. Kris Jensen

    Losing two people in such a short amount of time is more than anyone should have to handle. What you have shared in this brave blog post shows me you are a strong and considerate individual. Because your Nana wassuch an amazing person, and because your parents are open about the grief process, you have the best support network possible in the community and at home. This experience will widen you beyond your years and allow
    You to help others through their grief, if you choose to. Thank you for sharing

  10. Terri Propes

    They say writing can be therapeutic. I see why now – Xander’s writing was quite therapeutic
    – for me. THANK YOU !


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