Thursday, February 11, 2010
A lot of people have been asking me how Oliver is going. The truth is, I don't really know. He seems to be coping really well, but then will come out with a comment that makes me think it's playing on his mind.
For example, this morning Oliver woke up bright and cheerful as usual. We were talking about what I was going to put in his lunch and then out of the blue he said:
"How did Samuel fit in the box?"
I assumed he was talking about the coffin and explained that the coffin was the right size and Samuel fit perfectly. I reminded him that he had seen Samuel in the coffin. He then went back to talking about lunch.
He does this a lot. Last night when we were talking about going out on our bikes he asked, "how did Samuel stop breathing?". Of course I don't know the answer to this either, and that's what I told him. Once again he went back to the other subject.
Now if it was me asking thee types of questions out of the blue, it would be because it was constantly playing on my mind. But is it the same for a six year old? The few books and articles I read about children and grieving have said that it is fairly normal for kids to do this, especially kids Oliver's age, as they try to make sense of things. And I don't have a problem with the questions, I just wondered if it was because it's all he thinks about. I don't think so. Kids do tend to just blurt out what' on their mind, don't they. That's not such a bad thing I reckon.
Watch out for changes
When I went and saw the counsellor a few weeks back, she said that kids are pretty resilient and bounce back quickly. As a teacher, I can understand that. I've seen kids go through some pretty horrible things and come out the other side OK. But I've also seen kids fall apart or go off the rails, so it was a big concern for me. She also said to watch out for dramatic shifts in behaviour and that he might not even react to it until he reached 13. Wow.
Oliver has been amazing really, when you think about it. He was upset the first day, I think both as a reaction to the people around him as well as the initial impact of the situation. In the days that followed it was like he was overcompensating for the unhappiness around him.
On Christmas Day (which was three days after Sam died, so everyone was still pretty raw), he was going over the top with enthusiasm. Each present (we had tried very hard to do a 'normal' Christmas for him) was opened slowly and carefully and he raved about them, like he was trying to be happy for everyone.
For about a month, every time Oliver saw Anthony (or me) cry he would rush over and give us a hug. One day he must have heard Anthony crying outside because he raced out there to find him to give him the hug. It was so sweet to watch. He's kind of eased off a bit now, but if he's not doing anything and notices someone crying, he'll go and hug them. I've only seen him cry once. Last week, I think it was the night of his first day back at school, we thought he was asleep but then heard him crying. When I asked him what was wrong he said "Sam". Of course that set both Anthony and I off.
But, he's back at school and so far he's been OK. The school has been wonderful - so supportive and caring. They are really looking after him, and from what I can see so far, Oliver is responding with a good effort.
We'll see how he goes.