Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Life After Loss: Explaining To The Children

Written by Lisa Bell

My husband was diagnosed with colon cancer in September of 2003 and passed on July 26, 2005. My son was 7 going on 8 and my daughter was 2 going on 3yrs old when he passed. I remember the morning that he passed, I was running around making the funeral arrangements and my mom told me that my sister and brother-in-law took my son to breakfast to explain to him what had happened. I said, "ok." Now I am a VERY blunt person and very close to my children so I kept them, or at least my son in the loop the entire time, I hardly beat around the bush, so my children are used to getting it straight! After I made the arrangements, I went to my mother's house. My son was running around playing, which was after he was supposedly told, so I felt that he didn't really grasp what had happened. I went into the den and called him in there, I said, "Are you ok?" He said, "Yep." I said, "What did Aunty tell you?" He said, "She told me that Daddy is an angel now, but I already know that, and we all have angels." I said, "Baby, Daddy is gone, he passed away early this morning." He immediately began to cry and said, "what? Is that what she was trying to tell me? Why didn't she just say that?"

He chose to stay at my mom's house for that night, but my daughter came home with me. Now, normally I would take her in to spend time with him before she went to bed, but about a week before he passed, I stopped, I guess subliminally I knew what was happening and, I don't know, I just did what I felt in my heart. There was no manual and I was trying to make it as easy for her as possible, so I was trying to break the routine. We got home and I took her straight to her room, as I had for the past week, which she didn't fight until that night. She said, "No, I wanna see Daddy." She opened the door and clearly she saw that no one was in the bed but she went around to his side of the bed, rubbed the top of it, layed her head down and said, "Daddy is gone, bye Daddy, you are all better now."

My son came home a couple of days later and I took him to a counselor. After about 30 minutes, she came out and called me in and he waited in the lobby. She said, "You have done a great job with him and actually, I think he is fine. Now, he may reprocess this later, as most children do and my need to speak to someone at that point but for right now, he's fine, in my opinion." What a relief!

I notified the school and they had a grief counselor come in to talk to his classmates about his loss. And I made it clear to my son that he was NOT to use this as an excuse as to slack off in school. I reinforced the importance of doing well in school so that he could have a better adult life and that playing on others' sympathy was not what WE do. We transitioned rather well, with the grace of God. He is now going on 15 and my daughter just turned 10. She tends to have more of an issue with it from time to time. She wants to know why he died and she thinks it's unfair. I am constantly telling her stories about him and try to reiterate what I have learned about Karma and LIFE. I may look into counseling for her, but currently, they are both honor roll students and are as vibrant as they can be.

I said all this to say that we don't realize how resilient children are. We as parents sometimes try to hide the truth in order to protect them, or think that they can't handle or understand what's going on but the truth and the constant conversations about the current happenings is what I believe has been key to grasping such a tremendous loss. There is no manual to life, or raising children, but a pure heart, good intentions, and the ACCEPTANCE of the PRESENT is vital to progress.

Lisa Bell

About the author:

Lisa is a freelance writer living in Florida. She was born in Canada but raised in New York and is from Indian decent, Trinidad actually. She moved to Florida in 1990 and has been working in corporate America for 16 years. She has two amazing children, a 15 year old son and 10 year old daughter and she is a widow. She enjoys reading, writing and socializing.

Follow her @ Twitter


Anonymous said...

Love it Lisa, you are so right. I wish that my mother would have been like that with my son. She gave him the excuse to slack up in school and to moody. He really played into it and is now paying the price. Good for your bluntness it gets the message across loud and clear. Be BLESSED love as your children are your blessings from GOD.

Anonymous said...

BTW I forgot to sign, Annette

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