My five year old wrote a book. Her preschool class was tasked with creating a character, developing a story around the character, and illustrating the story before slapping a title on it and binding it into a precious keepsake. I hope it will be one that survives in the annals of schoolwork as evidence to our future selves and grown-up children: We were proud! We cared! We cherished (almost) every single work of art your little hands created! For the record, five-year-olds tell stories like I do: stories that tend to be relentlessly boring, long in all the unimportant details...
Back in October, when I was buried alive in death and dying research (and before my own diagnosis with cancer), I happened upon an article written by a woman in the UK who asked her grandchildren to decorate her husband’s coffin. Yes, you read that correctly. Her beloved husband of decades passed away and right smack in the middle of her grief, she went to the store, purchased a simple pine casket, paint, and brushes and plopped it all in her front yard for her young grandkids to go to town in remembrance of their grandfather. Then she buried him in it.
How insane. I was totally enchanted.
Harrowing journeys have a way of distilling life to the essence: what is meaningful and joyful. Marie Kondo’s promise to help clear all which does not bring joy offered the perfect tool for me. With her step-wise guidance, I could assert control and order, clearing clutter and making way for joy. Once the process is completed, all that remains is what is truly meaningful and joyful in life--the rest can be discarded.
Now I have breast cancer and am facing a full year of treatment following my surgery. It's time again to clear the clutter and become laser-focused. Maniacally get all the inconsequential knickknacks out of the way; I must tidy up. Distill life to make way for what’s truly meaningful and important.
Advice for Grandparents Advice for Parents Advice for sick children Blog Post Children and Loss Dr Emily McClatchey How do we talk to children about death Kidolences Blog Kidolences Origin Professional Help Talking to Children Understanding Death
Advice for Grandparents Advice for Parents Blog Post Children and Loss Dr Emily McClatchey How do we talk to children about death Kidolences Blog Professional Help Talking to Children Understanding Death
It can be jarring for an adult to see how quickly and easily children vacillate between grief and play; just when you've braced yourself to answer that difficult question or prepared for the anguish of trying to comfort an upset child, they've seemingly moved on from that moment in time. Indeed, children may surprise you with their easy ability to shift attention away from grief rather than wallowing as adults tend to do. In time, the child will likely cycle back through their sadness and re-grieve. It is important to normalize this vacillation-- both for your own reassurance and for the reassurance to the child lest they feel guilty for following their natural instincts to play. Play is not disrespectful to grief, it is an important aspect of coping and processing.