Our own little Operation London Bridge

I was fascinated to read about Operation London Bridge last week. The intricate detail that goes into plans of national importance is intriguing.

There are also certain parallels with a situation we find ourselves in at the moment – albeit on a much smaller scale.

My 91-year-old Grandma has been in hospital for three weeks. Sadly, she doesn’t have long left.

Operation London Bridge predicts that our monarch will pass away after a short illness. My Grandma’s descent has been rapid and dramatic. Although she has slowed down in recent years, she remained active and largely independent so her transformation has come as a surprise.

There won’t be any bizarre rituals involving kissing hands, black-edged notices or code words uttered between the inner circle. Radio stations won’t suddenly switch to a more sombre playlist. However, we are wondering whether we need to plan our own little Operation London Bridge.

This is mainly for the kids’ benefit. While we have spoken to them about what is going on, I don’t think they fully understand. I’m not sure they will when the time comes either, but I think we should be prepared nonetheless.

I never knew my great grandparents and don’t recall many of my friends knowing theirs. People are living longer now though and it has become much more common for family get-togethers across the land to comprise four generations.

This, of course, is a good thing. While Amelie sadly won’t remember her it’s great that, to Dylan and Xander, ‘GG’ will be so much more than a face in a photo album. I have no idea how they’re going to react though.

Dylan often keeps his thoughts to himself. He can be emotional about small things, but often surprises us with mature reactions to situations we think of as daunting.

Xander, meanwhile, speaks his mind much more readily. And, despite a determined exterior, he can be quite clingy at times.

With so many personality traits at play, it’s no wonder that grief can be such a lottery – particularly in children. As Tim at Slouching Towards Thatcham recently found with his son Toby, it can manifest itself in different ways.

So I suppose our plan – if we can call it that – is to try to be prepared for every eventuality. We will talk to the boys about what this means and encourage them to ask questions if they want to. As Tim discovered, their responses may not be immediate, so we will be keeping an eye out for any signs.

Some sad and difficult times are ahead of us.

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