“YOU HATE ME!” he cried.
“No, I don’t hate you. I could never hate you son.”
“I WANT TO DIE AND BE WITH MY DADDY!”
This went on for what seemed like an eternity. In reality though, it merely went on longer than I knew how to handle. I knew what was at the core of this. I saw the bigger picture.
It was a little boy hurting. A little boy trying to make sense of something that didn’t make a whole lot of sense. He was learning one of the hardest lessons in life, long before he was ready. Though I wonder, are any of us ready to learn this, no matter when it occurs in life?
I consider myself pretty lucky sometimes, despite the fact that I don’t really believe in luck.
Raising four toddlers, I have only had to deal with one temper tantrum. For all you parents out there, let that sink in. One temper tantrum among four lively toddlers – ever.
Eric’s death changed that in a lot of ways. Our return back to normal life, wasn’t so normal.
There were outbursts. There was screaming. There was crying.
“I want to run into the road and have a car hit me so I can be with my daddy!”
The first time I heard that from that little boy, my heart stopped.
I knew this had gone beyond what I knew what to do.
I made phone calls. I sought wise council.
He needed this.
I needed this.
We needed this.
Grief became bigger than a mother’s love.
The counselor’s name was Steve. He had a special way with grieving kids. He allowed them to process at their own pace. He encouraged art therapy.
Personally, I’m a big believer in art therapy. I have seen emotions expressed through art when the words cannot be found, and when emotions cannot yet be understood.
It’s a tool I have used throughout my children’s lives. I owe a lot to Counselor Steve for introducing this to me.
He helped me help my grieving child. But more importantly, he helped that child grieve.
I have to admit that I was a little skeptical of his advice.
He recommended I let him scream it out.
“Let him scream at the top of his lungs. Let him rant for as long as he needs to.”
My eyebrows raised. I wondered if this guy had kids.
“The condition is that he has to stand in one place and cannot move until he’s finished.”
I thought, “This guy is nuts. What kind of advice is that?”
“And what exactly am I supposed to do while he’s having a rant, screaming at the top of his lungs?”
“You ignore him.”
“Ha! You’ve got to be kidding me!” I thought. Though I may have said that out loud; knowing me, I probably did.
“How do I do that?” I asked.
“However you can. Read a magazine. Read a book. Pretend if you need to. Just ignore him until he gets it out.”
I hated that advice.
I hated it even more when I first tried it.
I had a magazine. Reading was a joke. He screamed at the top of his lungs while he stood under the window in our living room. I flipped through the pages pretending to be reading.
Within me, I was dying. I felt like a terrible mother. I wanted to go where he was and wrap my arms around him. I wanted to hug him and say, “I know son”.
I didn’t though. I was desperate to help him.
This was killing me.
But you know what? It worked. I don’t remember how long it took, but a few weeks and it all ended. No more yelling. No more outbursts. No more telling me he wanted to get hit by a car so he could be with his daddy. No more “You hate me”.
A few years following the death of Eric, I finally understood what that was all about.
When I lost a mother, I ran out my kitchen door to the back field and screamed at the corn. In many ways, our son needed to scream at the corn…
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