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, or wants children’s books dealing with grief, here’s what’s been helping me.
Dealing with grief for you the parent
Get a copy of the book Tear Soup: A Recipe for Healing After Loss(affiliate link), 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.
As to the children’s books dealing with grief
Get Nana Upstairs and Nana Downstairs by Tomie DePoala. It’s a children’s book about death. I’d also recommend reading Tough Boris by Mem Fox, which deals with the death of his parrot and how a pirate even feels sad, and that’s okay. Both of these are great children’s books dealing with grief, and look at different parts of how it feels. If your family is going through this I would strongly recommend getting both of these books, because they address different aspects.