Yesterday, we got news that my (ex) Aunt died unexpectedly. She was undergoing radiation for cancer and started feeling poorly. They took her to the hospital and within a few hours she was dead. They're not 100% certain of what killed her but doctors think it may have been a blood clot. She was in her 30s.
She is survived by a small, close-knit family, her ex-husband (my biological uncle), and my 7 year old cousin. Although divorced, my Uncle was still in love with her, so he is really torn apart. I don't know how my cousin is doing. I'm worried about him because he's so young to lose his mother and to face death. He will probably move in with my Uncle now...but his ex-wife's family will certainly try to gain custody (it's a complicated back-story). My Uncle may eventually need to relocate from the Carolinas to Cincinnati to be closer to our family. He is going to need a lot of emotional support and help with parenting (money and time). My cousin's life is going to be totally different. I feel so bad for this little guy.
I don't know what to say or do. I'm not very close with either of them and my cousin has only met me three times. My mom has been talking with her brother...and we both wish someone could leave town and be there with him (but everyone up here is tied up with work or too unwell to travel). Should I send a card--cards always seem like such paltry gestures...but I end up sending them anyway due to social ettiquette. I will definitely do that for my Uncle, but would it even matter to send a card for my little cousin? I wish I could give him a big hug. How do you offer comfort to a boy who has lost his mom? It's not my responsibility but if I could help at all, I would. It's complicated by the distance. Do you guys have any ideas? Instead of bringing over a casserol, should I send a gift certificate for a down-home restaraunt? Or maybe order take-out to their house instead, since being in the din of a public restaurant may be too much for their nerves right now?
Should I pretend to believe in heaven around my cousin (I'm fairly certain he will be movin up here in the next few months) or should I just be non-committal when people say, as they inevitably will, that his mother is in a better place, that she is always with him, that she is looking over him, etc., etc. I do not want to make this worse by confusing him. What solace does my worldview offer a christian boy who has just lost a parent? (It does not bother me to hide my views in this case--obviously, this is not about me but what is what is best for my cousin) I think it would be better for me to talk about how much we love(d) his mom and how we will keep her memory alive, if I am to say anything.
What would you do? What would you say?