Kids Can Teach Adults a Lot About How to Cope with Loss

5ccc43dfacfabb3965a0_Mandi.jpg
5ccc43dfacfabb3965a0_Mandi.jpg

All of a sudden, my 5’5” teen looked and felt like a baby. He’s been taller than me for over a year and his voice is deeper than his fathers. But as I waited to pick him up from school with the news that one of his best friend’s father died, I felt like I was ripping a security blanket away from an infant. My son who likes to pretend he knows everything does that because in his world he DOES know everything! Now I have to tell him something he doesn’t know. My heart raced as he walked to the car and I felt like I was about to steal a piece of his childhood. 

He knows people can die. We don’t shield him from the news. We don’t replace dead goldfish before he comes home from school. I share stories about my father who died when he was a baby. He knows I continue to grieve for my dad every day. But, the denial I employ to help myself feel safe that death can’t touch me and my family again is very real. So my child surely must not realize that death can touch his own sheltered life. Now I have to shatter his innocence and I am overcome with grief for him.

Not only do I have to tell him about this loss, but I also want to support him and help him support his friend.  How is an adolescent boy supposed to know what to do? I worry he will be uncomfortable, that he will shy away from his friend, that he won’t talk to anyone about how he’s feeling.

Sign Up for E-News

He is quiet. He checks Instagram (for definitive confirmation?). “I want to go to his house.  Now.” Well, he’s certainly not shying away. So we go. As do a handful of his friends. We arrive and there was probably 30 seconds of awkwardness when we first walked in and saw his friend. “Hey bro, I’m sorry.” “Thanks.” Not much eye contact happening. But then someone picked up a ping pong paddle and off they went.

Upstairs, adults were busy taking charge, making lots of decisions for the new widow. Answering the phone, cleaning up trash, making sure she had enough wine and sleeping pills, making funeral plans she may or may not have wanted done for her. Well-meaning people taking over the little control she has and making schedules, screening calls and questions, telling her what to wear, where extended family should stay, when to take a shower. But downstairs, the kids hang out, quieter than usual for sure, but allowing their friend to take the lead as they follow along. In between card games and ball tosses, he tells his friends about his father’s hobbies and the last vacation they took. The boys share memories of him as well. He tells them how he found out. He also talks about plans for school and his favorite college basketball team. They laugh. They talk. They sit in silence. 

Hours later it’s time to go. These boys spontaneously go to their friend and hug him, kiss him, tell him they love him.  Hold him. Say they will be back (and they will).

How wrong I had it! I was so worried that my own son won’t know what to do, or how to handle his own feelings.  But they did exactly what they needed to do—for themselves and their friend. It’s the adults that needed help.

Imagine is a free year-round children’s grief support center that serves NJ children age 3-18 and young adults 18-30 who are grieving the death of a parent or sibling, or who are living with a parent of sibling with a life-altering illness. Imagine also provides grief education and training for thousands of teachers, parents, coaches, youth and other adults annually.  

 

 

The opinions expressed herein are the writer's alone, and do not reflect the opinions of TAPinto.net or anyone who works for TAPinto.net. TAPinto.net is not responsible for the accuracy of any of the information supplied by the writer.

TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Be Interested In

Sign Up for E-News

Westfield

NJ Flags to Fly at Half-Staff for Jerry Green May 7

April 24, 2018

TRENTON, NJ — Governor Phil Murphy issued an executive order on Monday for New Jersey flags to be flown at half-staff at all state buildings and facilities on the day of the upcoming General Assembly session, scheduled for May 7, in memory of Assemblyman Jerry Green, former chair of the Union County Democratic Committee, who died last week.

On Thursday, Governor Murphy had said, ...

Synopsis of Westfield Board of Education Meeting on April 24, 2018

April 26, 2018

Board President Gretchan Ohlig recognized Westfield High School senior Greta Frontero as 2018 New Jersey High School Journalist of the Year and winner of the 2018 Bernard Kilgore Memorial Scholarship, a $5,000 scholarship award from the New Jersey Press Foundation. Ms. Ohlig praised Ms. Frontero for her investigative reporting for Hi’s Eye, the school newspaper, and presented a ...

Upcoming Events

Carousel_image_26bff2b330d314777eae_library

Thu, April 26, 10:00 AM

Westfield Memorial Library, Westfield

Westfield Memorial Library Spring Book Sale

Arts & Entertainment

Carousel_image_26bff2b330d314777eae_library

Fri, April 27, 10:00 AM

Westfield Memorial Library, Westfield

Westfield Memorial Library Spring Book Sale

Arts & Entertainment

Westfield Police Blotter: Two Reported Shopliftings & More

April 25, 2018

April 19, 2018 9:36 a.m.

Officer McCarthy arrested Paul S. Lee, age 36, of Ridgewood, NJ, at Westfield Police Department headquarters on the strength of an outstanding Westfield warrant in the amount of $89. Subject was processed and released after posting bail.

 

April 19, 2018 12:01 p.m.

A resident of Central Avenue reported being the victim of identity theft. Unknown actor(s) ...

Wine Tasting to Support the Center for Hope Hospice and Palliative Care

April 26, 2018

Annual Wine Tasting Supports the Center for Hope Hospice and Palliative Care The Center for Hope Hospice and Palliative Care Auxiliary is preparing for it’s Annual Wine Tasting with both a Silent and Live Auction to be held on May 20, 2018. The event will take place from 1:00 to 4:00 p.m. at 16 Prospect Wine Bar and Bistro located at 16 Prospect Street in Westfield. The tickets will be ...

Come Enjoy a Spring Concert with Westfield Public Schools

All concerts begin at 7 p.m. unless otherwise noted. 

3/27/18      RIS Chamber Music Night
4/24/18      WHS Chamber Music Night @ United Methodist Church
5/3/18        Franklin Advanced Band
5/5/18        WHS May-Hem
5/8/18        Wilson Band (date changed from 5/1/18)
5/9/18      ...

Plan for a Better Year

You survived another year’s tax filing — was the outcome what you expected? After looking at the results of this last year, and in light of the recent tax changes for this year, if you're concerned about getting the best possible results, why not reach out to me so we can take a look at planning possibilities together?

 

Call 908-935 -0181 and we'll get ...

Ways to Increase Your Home's Equity

Sometimes you forget and don’t realize your home provides so much to your life. It brings along with it your dreams of the future, shelter to you and your family, a way to provide a better lifestyle, a better commute, a neighborhood, schools, community involvement and recreational facilities. But it also provides a way to save for the future. It does this by allowing you to build your ...

'The Sting' shimmers and shakes at Paper Mill

‘The Sting ‘slithers and shakes at Paper Mill Playhouse

By LIZ KEILL

MILLBURN, NJ – In a premiere production of “The Sting,” Harry Connick Jr. commands the Paper Mill Playhouse stage in Millburn.

Based on the sensational Paul Newman/Robert Redford film in 1973, the 1930s plot centers on a con game and gambling, sometimes on a train between New York and ...

Why We Keep Kosher

Why We Keep Kosher

This week's parshah, Shemini, introduces the Torah's dietary laws. Animals must chew their cud and have split hooves to be kosher, fish need fins and scales, and a list of forbidden fowl is enumerated.

To those of us in Jewish education, it is a continuing source of disappointment that so many Jews still believe the kosher laws to be outdated.

Hellenic Therapy Center

April 13, 2018

Dropping Off Our Kids At College – Learning How To Adjust

Hellenic Therapy Center

 

Whether your kid is a freshman entering college for the first time or returning back to college, there are so many emotions we experience as parents.  There are differences in a parent’s reaction to the departure of a first child, an only child or even the last child.  Feelings ...

Obituaries

Oct 21, 1944 - Apr 14, 2018
Kathleen A. Hertell passed away peacefully with family at her bedside on April 14, 2018. Loving ...
Read more

New DMV Office To Open in South Plainfield May 14

April 26, 2018

SOUTH PLAINFIELD, NJ — The new Department of Motor Vehicles Office in South Plainfield is scheduled to open May 14 at 5000 Hadley Road.

Mayor Anesh received the official notification from B. Sue Fulton, the newly sworn director of the state DMV announcing the opening.

"I would like to thank everyone who helped make this become a reality,"Anesh said. "This is a ...