Are We Ever Ready?... PART 3
April 22, 2013
It is rough for adults when a loved one passes, but for a child, it is shattering. How the adult handles their grief is passed on to the child, who may be impacted for the rest of their life.
Look at the death of an older person; can you recall such an incident? I can. My Dad’s Mum passed away, and he was devastated. I was close to Gran, and so I started to cry (normal reaction, right?). Dad was, deep inside, a very emotional person and (stiff upper lip and all that) would have broken down if he saw me cry, so he verbally lashed out about not crying. I was scared and, as a result, never dealt well with death. In fact, I will find something to laugh about rather than deal with the sorrow going on deep inside of me. That is my childhood story; however, you are lucky. You live in a more enlightened age! There are many books that can help your child/grandchild. One such book is entitled My Daddy and Me: A Book About Grief for Kids From a Kid. For the young ones, there is Bear’s Last Journey by Udo Weigelt or That Summer by Tony Johnston. For those 4th – 8th grade, there is Remembering Mrs. Rossi by Amy Hest or Devil’s Bridge by Cynthia DeFelice. Teens present us with another area of complication; they seem so tough, so grown-up and yet they are coming to terms with their own vulnerability. I found 3 really good books that I thought might help them: Keeper of the Night by Kimberly Willis Holt, Daddy Says by Ntozake Shange, and Walk Softly, Rachel by Kate Banks. Yes, these books are fiction, yet it’s likely they will relate to the characters in the book.
Another area of concern with children is when a sibling or another child dies. They are impacted on many levels. "But why Mommy/Daddy? Am I going to die too?" How do you deal with that, especially when it is devastating to you as well? If it is due to illness, you know it is a possibility, yet you live with hope that all will be well. One book I highly recommend is Heaven is for Real for Kids by Todd Burpo and a book by Elissa Al-Chokhachy, The Angel with the Golden Glow. Going to a therapist is also highly recommended. If the death is due to an accident, one can spend a lot of time in bashing of self. "If only I had…" Remember, you are not alone. Get help. Read, share, reach out.
Not all, but a few couples do not do well when they experience a miscarriage, stillbirth, or infant death. It is important that one comes to terms with these situations as well, that is why I suggest reading Empty Cradle, Broken Heart by Deborah Davis. When we have children who are also looking forward to the birth of a sibling, it can frighten them. Suddenly, people are saying, "Don’t bother mom right now, she is hurting." Daddy will be reacting also. All the way around, death is tragic. It impacts the entire family, and we all need help.
I do not know, nor do I want to come across as all knowing. I have experienced much in my 67 years, and to be quite honest, I could hardly wait for the 1990s to be over. Here we are in the 2000s, not only a new decade, but a new century! Wouldn’t you know it, we had to experience the death of our 5 year old granddaughter in 2009 due to a house fire. Life is what it is. My only advice is to keep your faith and to keep loving, giving, and forgiving.
May we all rest in peace----one day.