I remember standing in the hallway of my house and seeing my mother enter the front door crying. My father of course moved to console her. however, even at such a young age I was clearly aware that something was terribly wrong. The reality of what was wrong should have been obvious. My grandfather had been terminally ill for quite some time. on several occasions my siblings and I had visited him in the hospital. I heard from my mother, my grandmother, and my father that the outlook for my grandfather’s condition was “not good”. My mother even went so far as to describe the need for me to prepare myself for “not having grandpa around anymore”. Of course, the insinuation that he would not always be alive was understood. however, the closeness of this particular concept of death and dying to my own immediate future was something that was very far removed.
As my mother came into the house sobbing, I was instantly curious to know what might have caused her sudden change in attitude. as I remembered her in the morning hours as rather cheerful. Naturally, my father instantly knew what the issue was and moved to console her without even saying a word. As he did, the emotional breakdown of my mother experienced was even stronger. creating a situation in which my curiosity was halted by the fear that whatever it was that was troubling her might be extraordinarily severe. This level of severity is discussed at more depth in Browning & Solomon (2004). however, the manner through which it was felt in both my parents and myself seemed surprisingly uniform. However, I soon gained a bit of courage and finally had my voice heard when asking both of my parents what happened. Unable to speak, my mother turned and faced the door as she continued to sob. Taking this opportunity, my father knelt down on one knee and told me that my grandfather was no longer with us. I remember distinctly looking into my father’s eyes and asking him “what do you mean?”.