While both of things happened over a month ago, Owen is still in the midst of processing what happened.
His experience at the river has caused him to have a few nightmares. One in which he was under water, his feet couldn’t touch the ground and I was there but couldn’t get him out. He is also much more afraid at bath time. He already didn’t like water on his face, but now each bath time is a range of emotions for him. He will often scream out or cry when I rinse the shampoo out of his hair.
Considering the violent way that Bob died, it has brought up a whole range of questions…At least once a day we go through a period of time where he starts asking me about death.
Are you gonna die?
Am I gonna die?
When we die where do we go?
When Daisy dies, will her bones fall out?
Did the ground open up and swallow Bob?
Why didn’t Bob run from the coyotes?
Will the coyotes eat us to?
When the coyotes ate Bob, did he turn into poop?
Why can’t we see Bob?
If he is particularly irritable he seems to get more emotional about Bob’s absence. I have explained that “we all die, we grow old and our bodies stop working but that isn’t for a long time. Mommy and Daddy are here and you are safe.”
When he gets upset and is missing Bob I say the same thing every time “Bob was a good boy, wasn’t he? I sure miss Bob too.” And then I try to remember something funny that Bob used to do. One day he was sobbing and I didn’t say anything right away and he yells “I WANT YOU TO SAY THE WORDS, WHY AREN’T YOU SAYING THE WORDS?!?!?”
Not surprisingly, he is worried about me or Danny dying too. One day he said “but Mommy, I don’t want you to die, I’m scared if you die I won’t know where you are and I won’t be able to find you.”
This is pretty tough stuff for a three year-old to think about and understand.
Shortly after Bob died, I heard the song How Can I Help You Say Goodbye, by Patty Loveless on the radio and the lyrics sounded like just what my kiddos needed…
“Mama whispered softly, Time will ease your pain
Life’s about changing, nothing ever stays the same
And she said, How can I help you to say goodbye?
It’s OK to hurt, and it’s OK to cry
Come, let me hold you and I will try
How can I help you to say goodbye?”