Thursday, August 29, 2013

Saying Goodbye is the Hardest Thing

This article is written in memory of my late father-in-law, KK.

Little ones lost their grandpa this week, this is the first time they encountered a loved one passing away. My late father-in-law had been ill for sometimes so his departure did not came as a surprise to the family, but it is definitely not easy for my duo to understand, my elder is not even 5 years old yet. 

My duo were closed to their late grandpa who had always loved them full-heartedly. He used to buy them their favorite snacks and toys just to give them a surprise during the weekend visit; he even bought an Angry Bird cake and a Minion cake each just a week before his departure, just so that they can enjoy singing happy birthday song and blowing the candles over and over again. My little girl had so much fun that night singing happy birthday song with a real cake. He was a fierce father to my big guy but such a loving grandpa who was fondly in love with his grandchildren, he will do anything just to make them laugh.

Hence, making them understand that their favorite grandpa is no longer around, was really quite a challenging task.

I received the news early in morning, big guy and the siblings were in the hospital during the very last moments but the kids and I stayed home after the evening visit to their grandpa. Hospital is not the place for little ones after all. Later in the morning, when my little captain woke up, I broke the news to him. 

"Ko Ko (little brother), gong gong (grandpa) had left us, he has gone to be with God in heaven."

"You mean, gong gong had died?", my little 4.5 years old opened his sleepy eyes wide. He knew his grandpa had not been well especially after the recent hospital visit where he saw the grandpa lying on the bed with all the tubes and oxygen mask.

"Yes", I replied solemnly.

Tears flowed down his cheek almost immediately, like raindrops. 

"But I don't want gong gong to die! I miss gong gong!", the raindrops gone fierce.

I hugged him tight in my arms, his reaction was stronger than I had expected. Holding back my tears, I whispered softly to him.

"Don't be sad my ko ko, gong gong had moved on to a better place, he is no longer in pain. As long as you love gong gong, he will always be in your heart, he will never really be gone, you know?"

He stared at me for awhile, and asked, "Heaven? Where is that place? Can we go and visit?"

"It's where good people go after they died and leave the Earth, it's a happy place with God."

He seemed to feel better. 

"Gong gong will be alright?"

"Yes, he will be".

He then calmed down, tear drops still visible on his both cheeks. 

Later at the funeral parlor, he refused to see his late grandpa lying in the coffin, he only starred from afar, but he said his prayer as he placed the white chrysanthemums on the altar. He wished gong gong to be happy, in a voice so soft that even I can barely hear.

When going round the funeral parlor, admiring all the wreath and reading the messages, I came to realize why is white chrysanthemums the flower of bereavement. The sorrow and dismay of losing a love one, is as massive as the amount of petals on each chrysanthemums.

Explaining death to little ones without scaring them was not easy. I hope big guy and I did it well.

On the other hand, my little girl who's under 2 years old had no clue what's going on. She kept asking me where's gong gong? And kept requesting to see the body in the coffin. I just told her, "gong gong is sleeping, he's having a long long sleep." she then went around telling everyone to keep quiet with a shhhhh sign. Too cute, yet too saddening that she didn't realized gong gong will never wake up again.

I let her choose a flower among all the wreath and let her placed it onto the coffin. Then she said bye bye to gong gong with a farewell kiss. I guess, this is the sweetest goodbye to my late father-in-law, who used to call my baby girl his Bao-Bei (sweetheart).

I wrote this article so that when my little ones grow up, they can recall what happened back then, when their beloved grandpa had passed away.

Rest In Peace, my dear father-in-law. Amen.


  1. My condolences to you and your family. It is really-really hard to explain to our little ones about somebody's passing. I think you did a great job!

    1. Thanks Tracy. I hope he can get over this soon.