‘Be grateful all of them are in one house alive and healthy, because mine aren’t. The fighting used to annoy me. Now, I’m glad they’re even here to fight.’: Mom says ‘they will remember what you do during this quarantine’

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This is a follow-up story to Shannon’s ongoing grief journey. To read the full back story please click here.

“2020 can go f*ck itself. I am over it completely. First, we lost our healthy, incredible daughter on Valentine’s Day from illness and now this pandemic of COVID-19 is taking over the world as I am writing this. I have realized that as far as we have come in technology and society, Americans in 2020 are not built to withstand adversity, disappointment, and tough times. Everyone is sensitive, everyone is offended, and everyone panics because nothing ever bad happens in their own little ‘world’ and when it does, all hell breaks loose.

As mothers and fathers, it is our job to prepare our little people to be able to handle problems calmly with grace, hope, love, and looking for the bright side. There is always a bright side. As a teacher, I have seen too many parents try to protect their children from having to deal with anything themselves and make excuses for lack of parenting or teaching, instead of using these situations as a learning experience. While 2020 has been the year from hell and we are only three months in, I am disappointed in Americans and ashamed of how people are acting in response to this pandemic. We have raised a very selfish, one-man-for-himself society and its appalling. I’m not here for it.

In a year from now, our little people won’t remember the details of this virus but they will carry with them forever how we responded to such a scary, unknown situation and copy that behavior for any new scary, unknown situation, big or small, in years to come. I’m not sure hoarding toilet paper is the answer. That’s f*cking insane. Whoever is doing it is pissing me off because it makes it so families like mine, with six butts to wipe, can’t get any toilet paper when they just need it for everyday living. The bright side is, we have a shower so we can get in the shower and rinse off. My kids are learning survival and dealing with things like no toilet paper during this quarantine.

Courtesy of Shannon Sandvik

The masks and medical supplies are what truly gets me. I can’t, for the life of me, figure out why you wouldn’t want our medical professionals to have what they need to care for themselves in order to care for others. Trust me, you may not think you will need them and ‘it won’t happen to you’ but one day, something happens and you find yourself sitting in the PICU, watching these nurses try to save your daughter’s life, and those masks are needed just to visit her in her last minutes here on earth.

People should be ashamed.

You can judge our parenting style, I don’t really care but I believe my husband and I are raising these kids to be able to handle themselves, deal with loss, disappointment, learn from mistakes and care for one another. This ranges from little things like learning how to do laundry, doing chores to help out around the house, forgetting laptop at school and dealing with consequences when you can’t do your homework, forgetting an assignment at home and needing to have a conversation with your teacher, or realizing we are halfway to soccer practice and you don’t have a ball. Kinsley was famous for this last one, my response was, ‘Oh well, I guess you better figure it out.’

We aren’t coming to their rescue every time. This is how they learn responsibility, to deal with anxiety, to be a part of society, and learn from their mistakes.

In one of the first posts I wrote about events leading up to Kinsley’s death, I wrote I didn’t want to panic because she could sense that and I didn’t want her to be scared. Don’t get me wrong, I was freaking out but my behavior and actions were calm. My husband and I knew our other kids were watching us deal with Kinsley’s death. They were dealing with Kinsley’s death too. We wanted them to see us crying. I want them to know its okay to be upset, and we will be sad for as long as we are alive because we lost her. But we get up every day and take on the day, even if it’s hard and filled with having moments.

Courtesy of Shannon Sandvik

When my kids think back on this pandemic, they will remember how my husband and I responded and what we did with our time. Sure, they are disappointed things got canceled but they also understand staying away will help save the lives of people who are older or have a compromised immune system. While we don’t have anyone close to us personally, they know that everyone has a mimi, a maw maw, a gran. That, my friend, is called empathy and compassion and my kids have it. Ava couldn’t go on her birthday trip, twice. Once because of Kinsley’s death and again because of this virus. She was capable of understanding and she’s 10. While they all were disappointed, we found the bright side: bikes, sidewalk chalk, playing ‘lost at sea’ in our backyard, and family game night. I didn’t go hoarding sh*t from a grocery store. We stayed in, ordered food, and spent time together as a family.

Kinsley’s death has given me a different perspective on life and parenting. I always enjoyed spending time with family, but I have a different appreciation for the things that really used to bother me, trivial things. The girls fighting used to annoy the crap out of me but now I am grateful they are here to fight. The girls going outside and getting their brand new shoes dirty used to irritate me. Now I am thankful they are here to get their shoes dirty and for the memories they made getting them dirty.

Courtesy of Shannon Sandvik

The bright side of this pandemic is we can use it to spend time with the people we love, time we wouldn’t normally get. We can use it as a learning experience for our kids, teach them compassion and empathy, how to use their imagination for play, and I guess how to ‘carry the one’ when adding. Help others out by staying at home and enjoying this time with your kids, even if you need wine to do it. Be grateful all of them are in one house alive and healthy because mine aren’t. This will pass, but what you do during this quarantine is what they are going to remember a year from now. Let’s hope it isn’t the toilet paper you hoarded.”

This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Shannon Sandvik. Follow her journey on her website here and Instagram here. Do you have a similar experience? We’d like to hear your important journey. Submit your own story here. Be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories, and YouTube for our best videos.

Read more stories from Shannon here: 

‘Her eyes looked up at me in panic. ‘Mommy, it’s blood.’ We were just in the ER and everything said she was fine. My stomach about hit the floor.’: Family says goodbye to their ‘forever Valentine’ after battle with flu

‘We were at dinner when I said, ‘Hell, give me another drink. I may take up smoking too.’ Kinsley was as healthy as a horse and in a week span, she was dead.’: Mom loses daughter unexpectedly to flu

‘She constantly pissed us off. Lord, did she stir up drama. Now, I’m pissed there will always be an empty seat. The family dynamic has been rocked.’: Mom continues to make memories after daughter’s passing, ‘We are going to find something to smile about’

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