Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Dealing with grief

tear soup

As most of you know who have been following my blog for the last few weeks, I have a good friend who just died.  He’s the sort of person who was more family than friend, he’s just been a part of my life that long.  And, for anyone who might be dealing with grief or wants recommendations on what to say to your kids in this time, here’s what’s been helping me.
Get a copy of the book Tear Soup, it’s a book on dealing with loss.  I like it because you can read it to your kids to explain why you’re crying so much, but it is more intended for adults.  Back when my Dad died I read this book more times than I can count because there were a lot of hurt feelings between me and my Dad’s family.  Most of it was over disagreements over silly details and I’m sure everyone meant well, but it ended with me feeling rather like a wet rag.
This book does a good job of talking about how grief is not just crying.  It’s also laughing at the crazy things you used to do together.  How the two of you would sit there and croon cheese at each other and discuss the relative merits of different types of cheese.
And sometimes you need to take a break from grieving, that doesn’t mean you are amazingly better, but you need a distraction, so you go to a Chuck E Cheese party with your kids.
On the subject  of kids, they’re understanding will completely depend on their age.  My oldest are about to turn five, and we’ve talked about death before when they asked about my Dad.  They’re dealing with it in their own way.  Some of it is in needing extra cuddles, some of it is in acting out more to get more attention.  And some of it is in the awkward manner of asking lots of questions I don’t have answers for.  They’re also incorporating death into their creative play.  Now, when they play house or the like Jeff and I are dead.  It’s somewhat disturbing because Jeff went to heaven, but I’m a ghost, but that’s them working it through.
For me the main thing to understand is this takes time.  You can’t microwave Tear Soup, it needs to be made in a slow-cooker for several weeks, and sometimes even for months.  You have to do it on your own terms, everyone has their own way of dealing with death or a loss.  When I had a miscarriage before the boys were born I was desperate to never be left alone for the first few weeks, but I didn’t want to talk about the miscarriage.  I just wanted someone with me.
With this, I don’t know.  It’s a little like having a scab, and you poke it every now and then to see if it still hurts.  I can mostly deal and carry on as long as I’m not thinking too much about it.  But, there’s still things that I break down at.  I sat and bawled through small group last week, but was relatively controlled at the memorial service until someone asked how I was holding up.
I know this was a rambling post that may or may not help anyone, but I wanted to share it in case it would help someone.
Oh, and for a book aimed specifically at kids get Nana Upstairs, Nana Downstairs by Tomie DePoala.  It’s a children’s book about death.  I actually have a whole list of books to help kids with this subject from when I was teaching, but it’s in my copy of Tear Soup, which I’ve loaned out to a friend, and that’s the only one I can think of offhand.
Well, if you’d like more great tips head over to We are THAT family for Works for Me Wednesday.
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