This is a question I have been asked countless times. The answer is not an easy one as each child responds completely differently in such traumatic circumstances.
Telling the children was the single most painful experience of my life.
Our prayer has always been that God would place an age-appropriate veil over each of the kids hearts and minds, that they would only hear and absorb what was necessary in that moment. Each of the kids have had conversations with me (and shed many tears) that show they have faced their worse fears. They are aware of the severity of the situation but they understand that we hold a hope and a real faith that Russell will be restored.
We have been learning TOGETHER, as a family, to live in a place of uncertainty.
Initially we all almost suffocated within the confines of our fear and pain but TOGETHER we are making small inroads .... Knitting uncertainty, gratitude and intentionality into the fabric of our lives.
This conversation between myself and Rachel sums up how the kids are doing:
Rachel: Mom! The songwriting workshop is amazing! I loved every minute of it even though it was a bit like a therapy session.
Me: What? What do you mean?
Rach: Well, part of writing songs is learning to tap into your own emotions so we did that and lots of the kids shared stuff that's happening in their lives. It was pretty hectic - everyone cried!
Me : Did you share your story at all?
Rach : Nope. But their stories were far worse.
Me: (gobsmacked) Really?? Can you tell me anything?
She proceeds to tell me stories of divorce, bad child/parent relationships , blended families etc
Rach : Our story is pretty sad Mom, but at least we all in it TOGETHER.
Thankfully I was wearing large dark glasses as I could barely see through the tears as I marvelled at the miracle of these words of wisdom from our brave, courageous