Marshmallow Halo

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.”

25 thoughts on “Marshmallow Halo

  1. Tears! Beautiful post – T is an amazing boy! I have said this before; you should send this to a parenting magazine – it’s a brilliant demonstration of parenting and love.

    1. Thanks Vickie. He’s processing it for sure and I’m thankful he’s so far finding healthy ways to do so.

      And thanks for the kind words. The blog is both an awareness raising tool for me and therapy. 😆 When I do have more time one day, maybe I’ll do as you suggested. It’ll be good to get the word out more widely about FASD and how families can thrive despite the challenges. Thanks for the continued support and confidence! 😊

  2. Kids understand more than we give them credit for. It’s pretty amazing to hear how T has been coping with loss and how he’s been processing it rather than pretending it didn’t happen or getting angry. He really is a sweet and compassionate kid. Hope you’re all doing okay.

    1. Thanks Linda. I think you said it best – he’s a good caring kid at his core.

      When it rains it pours, we finally got COVID after avoiding it for three years. 😂 Hubby had symptoms but is on the mend now and T thankfully avoided it so the two of us were a single parent family while the hubby isolated for a week. It’s been exhausting. Haha. We need a vacation. 😆

      Can’t wait to see your Utah recap!

      1. Oh no!! Sorry to hear that COVID finally got your family! Hopefully the hubby’s symptoms were mild. And yes, I imagine you would need a break after being a single parent for a week!! At least the kids are back in school!

        We just got back from Utah Monday night. I feel like I need a vacation from my vacation! I’m counting down the days to the weekend.

      2. Enjoy your reentry from Utah. It’s almost the weekend! 🙂

        He’s still testing positive, sigh, but no symptoms since last Friday. We’re hoping today will be negative so I can get a break this weekend. Haha.

        Happy Friday!

  3. Who doesn’t like public speaking – you or T?

    And how you must have gone outside of yourself to make the speech.

    [I bet you could find something to say about each stuffed creature as and when they die – if you are asked; or even if you are NOT asked].

    [and they will probably be dead when you stop finding new things to say about them].

    The formal seating for each animal and animal group drew me into the post.

    [also their companionable world].

    “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.” – yes; yes; yes.

    Emphasis on “at his core” – and how it ripples out to the world.

    “Serving fish at a funeral for a whale” – this is like when Christians eat wafer and call it the body of Jesus – and his Blood also.

    [and then Jesus becomes part of the congregant every week in the liturgical cycle]

    Not so very incongruent for me. Of course you would consume part of someone or part of what they loved.

    The fish part reminded me of sushi which is good funeral food – fish and seaweed.

    Also the colours of the fish made me think of floral arrangements.

    When you said:

    “I think this roleplay with his pets is healthy, because afterwards, he moves onto the next preferred activity.”

    I do agree – and I like the way you said *I think* at the beginning.

    Yes – there are a multitude of healthy ways to mourn and grieve which fit the griever and their needs and wants at any time.

    I think too about celebration [of Life] and commemoration [codifying memory and imagination of that person and what they represent/ed].

    The Ogosport seems like a good casket to me and it must have been for Cookie.

    The pronouns told me about the Aunt.

    And of course there is chronic sorrow and ambiguous grief – which you *will* gain experience [or you *may*].

    [complex and complicated grief/bereavement is a thing too].

    Marshmallows and halos do have things in common.

    Reading a piece about symbolic play and the theatre – there was a surrealistic play about René Magritte. Three groups of children and one group of adults/teachers were asked about this play and its symbolism.

    That piece was written around the time I was a young dramaturge and emerging playwright.

    So I do appreciate a construction of a scenario and how important it is to play things out with the ones you trust – as players and as audience.

    Your sister truly was a wonderful person. [as you said in the earlier post – an Angel].

    [a corporeally real and human angel].

    I saw the technology also – I know lots of people use technology for funerals especially after the coronavirus made its impact.

    And the microphone and the laundry basket – that too is funerary technology!

    1. Adelaide, so nice to hear from you. It’s been a while. Happy new year!

      To answer your questions and comments:

      – T is not keen on public speaking. It’s a shyness thing and we’ll work on it with him.

      – Yes, the formal seating for the stuffed pets were so touching to see.

      – “At his core” – When I have hard moments with T, this is what I try to remind myself of. Who he is at his core. And everything is ok again.

      – I am now craving sushi, one of my comfort foods!

      – I’m glad you picked up on the pronouns part. I thought the same.

      – I had a chuckle about the laundry basket being funerary technology. It really does work!

      Please take good care.

      1. Thank you for the 2023 wishes, Ab.

        That is fair. [the clarification about T and public speaking].

        There is a lot that comes in under the rubric of shyness – temperament and anxiety and responses to the environment.

        And I am sure that T reminds you of who you are at *your* core, Ab.

        When pronouns come in and out of places where they stand.

        Laundry baskets have so much to do apart from their intended functions.

        Had meant to tell you about the WonderBaby piece about the disposal and repurposing of stuffed animals so that they can go onto dignified homes and do work and service.

        I imagine a lot of families should like to know about it when they need it.

        Sushi is indeed very comforting – especially the tuna and avocado sort; or something with prawn in it.

        Also the puffs in the rice do matter a lot. And maybe a small amount of curry or a related spice.

        Big fan of bento boxes, myself.

        I notice how the camping and marshmallows evolved into a funeral service – spontaneously!

        The year has been relatively kind to me, thank you.

        And I am trying to take good care as you have wished.

      2. I will be having a bento box this weekend, it is decided. Thank you!

        And I’m glad to hear the year has been kind to you. I hope it continues to be. Take care,

  4. Awwww, that’s a really sweet way of T processing the loss the family had to deal with recently. What a mysterious, wonderful world a child’s mind truly is! And the marshmallow as a halo, that is super adorable!

  5. What a smart and healthy way to help him process. I love all the details of the services and I’m loving Cookie’s casket. So interesting about the pronouns. What a brilliant way to let him work it out and help you participate. You are such great parents to an awesome kid!

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