Processing and understanding death is hard for kids. Sometimes, stuffed animals can help.
T’s Auntie’s – my sister’s – death a few days after Christmas was sudden and despite the unexpectedness, T is doing ok.
I continue to check in with him every day to see how he’s doing.
Kids often don’t tell you how they’re feeling, instead they show you; they don’t tell you they need you, instead they ask you to play with them.
On New Year’s Day, the hubby, T and I took it easy at home. We had been running around for two days getting the funeral organized.
T asked me to play with him. He gathered all of his stuffed toys – his “pets” – into the living room.
What started as a camping trip and roasting marshmallows over a fire spontaneously became a funeral service.
His poor seal – named “Love” – was just minding his own business in the living room when he got picked to be the one to die.
It was interesting to watch T act out what he thought would happen, based on what we’ve described to him – including him digging up a hole to bury Love.
A week later this morning, a few days after the real service, T and I played again. This time, T re-enacted his Auntie’s service to pretty accurate detail.
This week, his pets bid adieu to “Cookie” the whale – who, unlike Love, got a proper casket.
T set up formal seating for the guests.
In a separate room, just like the actual service, T set up a refreshments lounge for guests. The menu included fish. Yes, serving fish at a funeral for a whale – I adore this kid.
T also had a podium for guests to give eulogies – and he asked me to say a few words about Cookie.
He then decided to say a few words. For someone who doesn’t like public speaking, I found this interesting.
The comment that jumped out at me was when he said, “I really loved her a lot” – because he always refers to Cookie using he/him pronouns.
The hubby and I are not experts in grief – nor are we looking to gain more experience! – and we’re doing our best to help process this.
I continue to tell T there is no right or wrong way to feel, think or say how he’s feeling – the important thing is to try not to bottle it in and to let us know at anytime whenever he wants to chat.
I think this roleplay with his pets is healthy, because afterwards, he moves onto the next preferred activity.
The last few days reminded me of many things – one of which is that at his core, T is an incredible, kind, caring and good kid.
After Love the seal was cremated, T placed him on top of his toy garage, high above the ground.
He put one of his stuffed marshmallow toys on Love’s head.
“It’s a golden ring,” he said, “He’s an angel now sitting on a cloud.”