We’ve been talking about this blog post for what feels like years. So many of you regularly ask us questions based around our previous blog posts, or because we’ve somehow managed to miss out a pretty big detail. Because of this, we have put this post into your hands. Many people asked us very similar questions, so we have combined them to create the following nine questions. Enjoy!
If the children asked, would you let your Niece and Nephew call you Mum and Dad?
We would never, ever encourage this. Mum and Dad are real people and we are not here to replace them. Also, we already had roles and names before their Mummy passed away, we were always Adam and Jade, so we think that changing that would just be confusing for our Niece and Nephew. Honestly? We probably wouldn’t feel comfortable with them calling us those names.
What’s been the biggest challenge?
Both of us have found the some of the same things challenging, but the biggest challenge has been different for each of us. We we are going to answer this question separately.
Aunt: For me, the most difficult thing is feeling under pressure. It’s not that anyone makes me feel that way specifically, I put the pressure on myself. I just feel all I want to do is make their Mummy proud and I wonder if I’m doing that. I also feel pressure for our relationship to be perfect which is just ridiculous considering what we have been through. Sometimes I forget that it’s okay to admit that things are a bit tough at times.
Uncle: I don’t find anything challenging about being a Special Guardian particularly, but the hardest thing for me mentally is worrying about how our Niece and Nephew are going to deal with everything they have been through when they get older. They were only 4 and 5 when their Mummy died and I worry about how this will affect them as they get older.
What’s been the most rewarding part of bringing up your Niece and Nephew?
For both of us, it is just so rewarding to see them grow up. Whenever we see them achieve something new we are just filled with so much pride. It never fails to amaze us how much they have overcome in face of such heartache. Seeing them proud of themselves and their successes, not matter how big or small, is just so wonderful to see. It’s also often in those moments that we see their Mummy shine through too.
Do you have any fears for the future?
As mentioned above, we definitely worry about how their bereavement will impact their future. We are pretty sure that the teenage years are going to be challenging to say the least. But we really hope that everything we have done since their Mummy passed away will help them manage their feelings and emotions. As most of you know, we have always encouraged our Niece and Nephew to be open and honest with anything that is worrying them, so we hope they will have confidence to continue doing this as they get older. We also worry about how our family dynamic will change if and when we have a child.
How do you manage your own feelings of grief around / with the children?
We think that it’s really important to be truthful about how we are feeling. We want them to know they are not alone with their grief and we hope that in some way that will offer them support. We always try to explain to them how we are feeling and why. If something has made us cry, we don’t hide that from them. We often spend bedtimes cuddles talking about this as a family. We are all in this together after all. However, back when their Mummy first passed away we were obviously a bit more sensitive to this.
What do you do on Christmas to make sure Mum is present but it’s not too sad?
We have actually written a blog post about this. Ever since our Niece and Nephew’s Mummy passed away, we have spotted white feathers in the most unusual places. Because of this, we chose a clear bauble with feathers on the inside and ‘Mummy’ written on the outside to place on out Christmas tree. It’s such a lovely moment when we put the bauble on the tree and it always encourages us to think of her at this time of year. Last year, for the first time, we went on a lantern walk with our local childhood bereavement charity, Guys Gift. As we were walking around, it was a lovely opportunity for us to talk to our Niece and Nephew about their Mummy. We spoke about what we missed and what we thought she might’ve liked for Christmas. It was great for our Niece and Nephew to see that there were other children who had been bereaved and that they are not alone when missing their Mummy at Christmas.
Did you know in advance that you would have the children or was it decided after?
As our Niece and Nephew’s Mummy died suddenly, and was very young when she died, we hadn’t even discussed the topic before. A day or so after she died, we spoke to each other about the option of becoming responsible for our Niece and Nephew. We were young and had no responsibilities, so we felt like we were a good option. Luckily the rest of the family agreed. Some people have also asked why they don’t live with Grandparents or their “dad”. Their Grandparents are such a big part of their lives and they spend a lot of their time with them. However, they have some health issues which made us suggest ourselves. As far as their “dad” (note the inverted commas) is concerned, he has made the choice not to be in their lives. He didn’t attend any of our court proceedings. They have asked question about him and we have answered these honestly and appropriately for their age.
Is there anything you would do differently?
We constantly look back and think “what if we’d done this” or question “should we have done this instead?” But generally speaking, we wouldn’t change a thing. We have always had so much help from everyone around us that any decision we’ve made has always been supported. We guess the “what ifs” we sometimes think are normal for any parents? We don’t always make the right decisions by any means, but we always try to do what’s best.
Do you want children of your own?
Without a doubt. But not right now. Obviously our situation makes that milestone slightly more complicated. We don’t want our Niece and Nephew to feel like they are being replaced. Realistically, we will probably only have one child as that will make us into a family of five (yikes!) But who knows, we will cross that bridge when we come to it.
And that covers all the bases we think! Sorry if your question wasn’t included. We appreciate that we share quite a lot about our personal life on here, but there are some details of our Niece and Nephew’s story that we just aren’t ready to discuss. This is mainly because everything we try to explain to our Niece and Nephew is age appropriate and there are certain parts of the story that we haven’t even spoken to them about yet. Thank you for your continuous love and understanding.