Dear Harlan: My 99-year-old grandmother tested positive for COVID-19. Unfortunately, if she does not survive, do I share with my kids that she had COVID, or just that she passed away? I don’t want to upset them.
— Protective Mom
Dear Protective Mom: I’m so sorry your grandma tested positive. This is a difficult time. I’m wondering, What are you protecting your kids from? The truth? Sadness? Discomfort? Pain? Or are you just protecting yourself from feelings of discomfort, sadness and pain. Collectively, we are living through an unimaginable time. As parents, we want to keep our kids in a bubble of safety, security and comfort. We don’t want them to have to deal with the ugly realities of growing up. Childhood should be a carefree time of joy and growth without the ugliness that can be part of life. But life is hard. And life can be uncomfortable and scary at times. Your grandma’s illness is one more opportunity to help your kids practice getting comfortable with the uncomfortable. The world is not all sunshine and rainbows. It’s darkness, struggles and storms, too. The clouds roll in, darkness falls and it can get hard. But then the clouds pass, the sky clears and the sun shines again. We are in a time of darkness. We don’t know how long this will last. Hiding the truth doesn’t make it go away. It just makes it hard for your kids to process and face their emotions. The truth is sad and uncomfortable, but it’s temporary. I hope your grandma recovers and moves beyond this. Whatever happens, share the truth with your children. Let them feel whatever they need to feel. Give them a deeper, more meaningful connection to the realities of what it means to live through this time. If they get upset, let them. If they get scared, hold them. If they need answers, explain sometimes there aren’t answers. And make sure you have someone to hold who will remind you that this too shall pass.