Dealing with losing a loved one

Published December 10, 2016, 12:05 AM


by Suzi and Paolo Abrera

Hi Suzi and Paolo,

I have three children who love their grandpa so much. However, dad was diagnosed to have colon cancer and although he has undergone operation his health continues to deteriorate. Hence, my dad could no longer play with my children like what they use to do. They often get sad when they see their beloved grandpa suffering. What can I do so that my children can cope with the pending loss of a loved one?


(Illustration by Eugene Cubillo | Manila Bulletin)
(Illustration by Eugene Cubillo | Manila Bulletin)

Suzi says

Hello, Narlo,

Thanks for writing in. I can only imagine the sadness your family is feeling right now. Even the children are aware because that means that your dad is a wonderful lolo to them and they can sense that he isn’t the way he was before.

You weren’t able to mention the ages of your kids but I imagine if they are able to feel sad, they must be of age enough to maybe understand that their lolo is quite ill.  My only suggestion is to always pray together for lolo so that he might enjoy best the time he has with the family. Death is never an easy topic. However we all have our limited time on earth some longer than others. Our only rock is God and to trust the plans He has for each of us. It is always good to pray that we remain good to one another and love our family with all our hearts!

I hope the best for your family and may you still enjoy Christmas with your dad even though he isn’t too well. God bless you all!

Paolo says


Thanks for your letter. The passing of a loved one is certainly hard on all of us. And we may not give children the attention they deserve because we feel they may not be as heavily affected as adults may be. I’m glad to hear that you give your kids enough credit to know that they, perhaps more than others will be very much affected. It will definitely be hard to deal with the loss but I recommend that you don’t sugarcoat the issue. Speak in very clear terms and explain the situation to them. Explain that no one stays forever and that we should all be thankful for whatever time we have been given to spend with each other. Though, their “playtime” with grandpa may have to change due to his deteriorating health, there are always many things they can do to make him feel loved and for them to be able to express their love. Making cards, making him a video of something they did and share it with him if he’s able may be a good way for them to still be able to interact with grandpa on a much less strenuous way. Time is indeed precious and we should make the most of it in whatever way we are able to.

But do prepare them for the ultimate possibility that their grandpa may pass in some time. I like to talk in terms of going on a journey. An exciting journey to heaven where he will be first to go, but we all eventually meet up again. I’m not sure what your spiritual or religious beliefs are but if you share my convictions of a notion of the passing to a peaceful afterlife, share your thoughts with your kids. I would demystify death for them, and hope that it becomes less of a burden if they are able to envision the journey our spirit takes from earth to the heavens where all is at peace and all sickness and pain are relieved. I believe that time is immaterial in heaven and tell my kids that though it may seem like a long time for us to wait, in heaven our dearly departed don’t have to wait long at all, in fact they continue to watch over us and guide us. Share your emotions too, as I’m sure you feel the weight of the impending loss as well. The thought as well that in going on his journey to heaven, their grandpa is relieved of all sickness and pains may be a comforting thought to them. Lean on each other to help support the sadness that will pass as we remember our loved ones at their best. And I believe that we will indeed see each other again for a grand reunion of sorts. Keep in mind that like us adults your children will need time to process and to heal, mind your sadness as well as theirs and try to make sure that they are able to process correctly and not fall into lingering sadness that is not healthy.

We too have suffered loss in the family, and although there will always be a lingering sadness, the thought of a happy reunion in the future and a continued relationship on a higher level where our loved ones continue to be with us as our guardian angels of sorts is a precious thought that sees us through those sad moments. I wish you strength and peace in this time of transition, it’s tough, I know. But celebrate with whatever time we are given with our loved ones, and if they have to leave for their journey home sooner than expected, let the sadness pass and after continue to celebrate their life, knowing that they are never very far and that we all will meet again.