Jonathon's Closet

Thursday, August 24, 2006

A Few of My Favorite “Cheats”

I have a few reasons for sharing my "cheats" today:

1. My brain is just worn out. I've been trying to help a couple of friends deal with some very difficult losses and I'm tired. Isn't that awful?!? I'm tired. I'm tired of lousy things happening to good people. It wears me out. I'm tired of the fact that we lose our spouses, our children, our parents, and others that we love. I'm tired of knowing what it feels like. Just tired.

2. I got a couple of e-mails that said "can you REALLY eat on that small of a grocery budget?" The answer is yes. We have for 7 years now. It's a challenge but it can be done!

3. Just in case your life is as hectic as mine can be, I thought I’d share a couple of my really quick dinner recipes – and they’re so easy that Jona makes them too, on nights when I REALLY don’t want to cook!

If you're tired. If you're feeling the exhaustion that grieving brings. If your life is hectic. If you really don't want to cook. Or whatever. Then these are for you:

Creamed Chicken & Mushrooms

1 onion, chopped
leftover cooked chicken or 1 large can chunk chicken, drained
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 small can sliced mushrooms, drained
1 package egg noodles, cooked
1 cup sour cream (if you don’t have sour cream, ½ cup of milk works ok too)

Cook onion in large skillet. Add chicken, soup, and mushrooms. Simmer 10 minutes or so. Stir in sour cream. Heat thru. Serve over noodles. Top with chopped green onions if you have them.

Tuna Pot Pie

2 cans tuna
1 can cream of whatever you have soup
1 16 oz package of your favorite frozen veggie mix (ours is broccoli, cauliflower and carrots)
1 can refrigerator biscuits

Mix the first 3 ingredients in a casserole dish. I usually add a little milk too - makes it creamier. Top with pieces of biscuits. Bake at 375 for 35-40 minutes.

Mom’s Special

Layer in a casserole dish (in this order):
1 lb ground beef (you don’t even have to cook it first)
1 chopped onion
2 cans green beans (Jona’s favorite)
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 package shredded cheddar (or whatever cheese you have)
1 package tater tots (no, they’re not real healthy – but we like them!)

Bake at 400 til done (well, DUH Kate) about 35-45 minutes

Notice there’s not much cleanup involved in any of these – that’s because I hate to do dishes!

Note: These recipes just sort of evolved from the pantry in the past few years. Cooking became less enjoyable for me in the year after losing Don. Jona and I got creative together and these are some of the things we came up with. They’re also inexpensive to make, and I operate on a very tight budget! Nothing fancy, just good comfort food.

Whoever you are, where ever you are in your journey - I wish you comfort most of all.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Grocery Shopping – it’s more fun than you think!

Ok, so today I’ve stepped down from my soap box long enough to go to the grocery store. We just got home and I’m feeling pretty good. Damage done at the checkout? $16.86 Way under my $25/week budget! (I’ll have to stop and buy milk later in the week, we still had almost half a gallon and I like it best when it’s fresh)

Wait! $16.86, you say? Yep, that’s the total all right!
Before coupons, $34.20
After coupons, just $16.86
I just love matching all my coupons to the advertised specials and seeing how much I can save. Yeah, I’m kind of a dork that way!

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Grieving Children

The quote I mentioned yesterday is that of Dr. Marylene Cloitre, an expert in child trauma who became counselor to hundreds of children affected by 9/11.

Even in the best of communities, even in situations where the schools/neighbors/friends rally around the family at the time of the loss, it is still a fact: We, as a society, are ill-prepared to help grieving children.

And even in those places where those wonderful people exist, those wonderful people who step forward when the unthinkable happens and do what they can to support the grieving family at the time of the loss, very few people think beyond a few weeks or a few months. Very few people understand what these kids are still trying to live with each and every day – for the rest of their lives.

Director of Camp 9/11 Angela Martinez shares, “Five years after 9/11, the kids are still dealing with a lot of issues." She was compelled to create a camp where children could come together with others who have had similar life experiences, let their guards down and learn to trust again.

David Abraham, executive vice president and general manager of TLC, states "It is an eye-opening perspective on family, loss …”. He is correct. In watching this presentation, you will witness the way the children reacted to the reality that their loved ones were never going to return home again, and how this fact affects their daily lives.

Some of the children profiled in CAMP 9/11: CHILDREN OF HOPE include:

* a sixteen-year-old boy who lost his father and now feels that must take care of his mother because he is the man of the house, and feels that he is the only father his 5 year old brother will ever know. Since he was 11 years old, he has been trying to be a FATHER to his little brother.

* a fourteen-year-old whose grades dropped dramatically 3 years after the event. She stated that she was unable to concentrate, “that day just kept repeating in my head”. Not immediately after – that is something most people would understand. 3 years later, that day just kept repeating in her head.

Most people have no idea of what the struggles of a family are in the years following the loss of a parent. If you know of a child who has lost a parent, do you know:

If this child wakes screaming in the middle of the night?
If the parent wakes in the middle of the night feeling the child’s fingers on her throat, as he checks for a pulse?
If this child suffers from flashbacks of “that day”?
If this child was diagnosed with post traumatic stress disorder?

Do you know that when that 9 year old child was presented with an award for being the league high-scorer in soccer and yelled out "do ya see this?" while waving his trophy excitedly in the air, he wasn't calling out to the crowd of soccer players and parents, he was talking to his father. Do you know that he then cried on the way home because Dad wasn't there to "see this"?

No, you saw a proud kid hanging out with all of his soccer buddies and smiling when they took the team picture.

Do you know that when taking that beautiful gifted 10 year old child to Music Camp, the mother drove for 1 ½ hours with the child stretching out of his seat belt wrapping his arms around her neck almost hysterical, screaming and sobbing, “What if you die while I’m gone?”

No, you saw him after his mother calmed him and reassured him and secured permission from the camp director for him to call home every night at 8 o’clock, just to say goodnight. You saw him smiling and giggling with all the other children, because after all, that’s what he wants to be, just like all the other children, and he just blended in.

Do you know that when attending 4-H Camp, this 11 year old child misbehaved in an attempt to get sent home because he felt a responsibility to take care of his mother?

No, you saw a child who was behaving poorly and thought what a shame it was that no one ever taught him better.

Do you know that when packing for Boy Scout Camp, this 12 year old child tore all of his trophies, plaques, medals, and awards from the wall and threw them across the room because he was so angry that his Dad wasn’t there to help him pack?

No, you saw a responsible young man show up at camp, help younger campers with their gear, and laugh when he won the contest for having the most freckles! Again, he just blended in.

That’s the thing – even the experts DON’T KNOW what life becomes for these children. This is an invisible wound. My kid looks like all the other kids (well, except for that red hair and those freckles – but that is a totally different thing!). Life is different for a child who is not just imagining that something terrible MIGHT happen, but a child who KNOWS that terrible things DO happen.

For these children, “happily ever after” only exists in fairy tales.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Every Single Day

Last night The Learning Channel aired a special titled: Camp 9/11: Children of Hope. I watched bits and pieces as I clipped coupons and paid bills. It was a very well done presentation. All teachers, school counselors, anyone who works with children should be required to watch this show as part of a "grief and loss" educational seminar.

One quote in particular caught my attention: “It may seem very remarkable but we know very little about how young children do after they lose a parent”. This is so true.

On 9/11 over ten thousand children lost parents. This is a terribly sad fact. But the truth is that children lose parents to death every single day. And we as a society are indeed incompetent when it comes to dealing with the accompanying grief. We desperately lack the necessary knowledge to help ALL grieving children heal. And that is where the real tragedy lies.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Just Because I Can

No rhyme or reason here, just adding another post today because I feel like it. This is a picture of my 2 guys. (Taken 7 days before Don died)

Me again

Wow. I just read what my mom wrote yesterday and I don't think I ever knew how hard this has been on her. I mean I know it's been really hard but I didn't know HOW hard. Maybe I was too little to know. I sure am glad that things are so much better now, 7 years later. But I'll bet she still has those "the pain never goes away days" - 'cause I still do. It's like being stuck on a merry-go-round or something that just won't stop. Maybe a roller coaster with all it's ups and downs. But you're stuck on there and can't ever get off. People think this is something you just "get over". Well you don't just "get over" this, people. Not ever.

Anyways, it's my turn today and I made a list that I want to post, so here it is:

Top 10 reasons why my life sucks:

10 I’m not rich.
9 I can’t drive – and my Mom has a Mustang!
8 My Mom won’t buy McDonalds every day.
7 I’m starting to get acne.
6 I have to do chores. I hate chores.
5 I chipped my left front tooth – and don’t even know how!
4 School is not year round.
3 My Grandpa, who used to take me to the river to watch the boats, is dead.
2 We don’t live in the mountains – and I miss spending summers in the mountains.
1 My Dad is dead. It's been 7 years now. And I still miss him EVERY SINGLE DAY.

My Mom would only let me post the first list if I agreed to make and post a second list:

Top 10 reasons why my life is good:

10 I get to have fun bargain shopping and we always find good stuff.
9 I’ve been to a couple of really cool rock concerts.
8 My Mom lets me watch “Dog the Bounty Hunter”.
7 My Grandma paid me $5 just to vacuum the basement.
6 I am on the Science Olympiad team.
5 I am very smart.
4 I get to take taekwondo lessons
3 I get to be on the swim team.
2 I have good friends.
1 The library is only 1 mile away!!!

Ok, so maybe life isn't ALL bad, but parts of it stink! Maybe I'll go do my chores so I can call a friend and go to the library - isn't it cool that the library is open on Sunday afternoons?!? I love it!


Saturday, August 19, 2006

Bits & Pieces of a Journey

Ok, so I couldn't sleep last night and my journal was sitting right there. You know, looking at me. So I flipped thru the pages and decided "hey, I should blog this" except that it's insanely long, some of my entries are 8 pages long. So I just snipped out bits and pieces and created the following "timeline". (This is the journal I began 2 weeks after the death of my husband and daughter. Someday I'll post some of the poetry I wrote as well. Yeah, writing is my "therapist" - it's where I dump/sort thru all of my emotions. Always has been.)

A journey: excerpts from my journal

2 weeks
I know you’re not coming back, so why am I still expecting you?

3 weeks
Oh, God, please wake me up and let this nightmare be over.

4 weeks
This is more than I can survive … if only I wouldn’t wake up tomorrow.

5 weeks
Jona cries for Daddy all day and all night – and I can’t fix it. I can’t do this alone.

6 weeks
The days grow so weary. And long dreary nights. Everything is gray and fog-filled.

7 weeks
What I wouldn’t give to isolate this endless pain, to designate a place for it and require it to remain within those boundaries. Where would I put this? Right now it is everywhere.

2 months
To pretend that it is alright, that it will ever again be alright, is to deny how it truly was.

3 months
The world is never again as it was, before someone you loved so dearly died.

4 months
I hate this life. Oh God, why am I still here?

5 months
I’m so tired. Tired of crying myself to sleep every night, tired of waking up to find you gone, tired of being an only parent. Tired of life. Tired of living.

6 months
If you lose an arm, everyone can see it. They can see your struggle. Everyone knows that you will live the rest of your life without that arm. This loss is invisible. Totally invisible. Unless you look and listen very carefully.

7 months
I should write the words in big bold letters on a huge poster so everyone can see them: THE PAIN NEVER GOES AWAY.

8 months
Please help me to find the strength to get thru this darkness.

9 months
Whatever I did to deserve this life, I am so sorry. I’d change it if I could.

10 months
This house is so empty. I hate it.

11 months
Daddy is dead now too. (my Dad)

12 months
In the gloom of another January, all I see are the scattered pieces of my life waiting for me to pick them up and make the picture.

16 months
To my love: I want you to know how completely I loved you – and love you still. The last time you were home you were in my arms, my mind, my body, my soul. The last time. What if we had known? What would we have said?

18 months
I felt you leave me today. All along this journey you have been with me and today I felt you leave. This absence, this void – it grows larger with each passing hour.

24 months
Where did I go? Will I ever find me again? I lost me somewhere while losing you.

36 months
tears without end, days without nights, night without day, food without taste, sleep without rest, sorrow without comfort, pain without limit. Life without.

48 months
I cry less now. This is good. Finally there are more good days than bad. I never thought I’d be ok again. But I am. Not great, but ok. Certainly not the same. Older, much much older. More serious. More cautious. More fearful, yet more fearless. Stronger. Yes. Stronger.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Hey - look what I did!

This is a word cloud. I made it at It's pretty cool - you just tell them the url for your blog and they create the word cloud from your blog.


Thursday, August 17, 2006

My Inner Age

I took an online quiz today - "Discover Your Inner Age" and am relieved to learn that I'm not really 72 years old inside - even though I feel that way sometimes! Here's what it said about me:

Your inner and outer ages are a pretty good match. You're aging gracefully and seem quite comfortable with it. You know how to balance fun with responsibility. You can go skating with your kids in the morning, then switch gears and spend the afternoon taking care of business. You know how your kids' video games work, but you know how Individual Retirement Accounts work equally well. People come to you for all kinds of advice—and for good reason. You possess a great combination of youthful energy and wisdom that comes with age.

(I think it just nicely told me that even though I'm not elderly yet, I am old!)

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Gonna Get Worn Out From Dancing!

Yeah! It’s over! (happy dance!) Back-to-school shopping is over! One $7 jacket and one $7 hoodie added to our previous purchases and it’s over! He’s declared that he has everything he needs! Over with money to spare! Which is surprising, considering he's outgrown almost everything he owned over the summer! I am so glad to be done with back-to-school shopping that I can hardly contain myself! (more happy dance!)

Shopping used to be ok. Never really my thing. Like Jonathon pointed out, shopping was his Dad’s idea of fun, not mine. My husband loved to shop. Absolutely loved it. And had great taste too! His enthusiasm made shopping bearable – even fun sometimes.

Now shopping is like the equivalent of a root canal – an expensive, painful, dreaded experience. An activity that causes so much stress and anxiety that it is often accompanied by headaches, heart palpitations and shortness of breath. Not exactly my idea of a good time.

Jonathon (reading over my shoulder) says “but Mom, you’re a great bargain hunter” and this is true. But shopping remains a highly stressful activity for me. He continues “and we had a great time!” I’m glad he had fun. This took effort on my part, believe me! And a little self-bribery too: “Ok self, if you make it all the way to the other end of the mall without getting bitchy, you can have a strawberry banana smoothie on the way home”

I made it. I got my smoothie. And Jona got all of his “necessities” for back-to-school. And we don’t have to do it again for a whole year! (happy, happy, happy dance!)

note: Grocery shopping is an entirely different thing - that is a challenge I can deal with, even on our $25/week budget!

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Back to School Shopping ... with my Mom!

I can’t wait for school to start! I love school! And I’m tired of being at home!

My Mom doesn’t really like to shop. My Dad LOVED to shop. Weird, huh? But that’s how it was. I like to shop too.

Back to school shopping with my Mom is interesting. My Mom can spot a bargain a mile away and doesn’t even need binoculars! Even though my Mom doesn’t really like to shop, I kind of think she likes the challenge of it. We always find good stuff at a good price, which is great because the back-to-school budget isn’t very big. I mean $100 sounds like a lot of money, but it’s really not if you consider the cost of things.

We always take a day or two, never shopping in a rush and usually driving to one of the big outlet malls. After all, the road trip is half the fun! My Mom lets me choose the music we listen to and we talk. We talk a lot. And she’s pretty cool about stopping for a frozen drink or some fries along the way.

We got all of my school supplies already – and spent just under $10 of our strict $100 budget. I don’t need a new backpack this year, so that definitely helped!

So far, we found:
1 pair of jeans, $8
1 pair of jeans, $ 6
1 pair of denim shorts, $7
1 pair of U of M shorts, $5
1 pair of blue/gold shorts, $3
2 white ribbed T’s, trimmed in blue (my favorite color) $1 ea.
2 tie-dyed T’s, $3 ea.
12 pair of socks, $6
4 pair of boxers, $10
We found a replacement for my necklace that broke last year! Mom kept saying we’d find it and we did. Not only did we find it, we found it at half price! Necklace, $3

As you can see, I’ve still got more than $30 left! And I’ve got some of my own money too. So we’re heading out again this afternoon, to see if we can finish up!

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Fig Newtons

Last night, it happened. It doesn’t happen nearly often enough anymore. Now that he’s getting older, the bedtime snuggles are getting few and far between. But last night, he sat down next to me on my bed, tucked his feet under a blanket and leaned his head on my shoulder.

“Mom” he said quietly, “do you remember when I was little how every Saturday morning Dad would take me to the library for story hour?”

I smiled. Weekends Dad – who was a morning person – always did morning duty so I could sleep in.

“And every Sunday he would take me to buy the Sunday paper at 7-11 and he would let me pick out any treat I wanted and I always got Fig Newtons?”

I laughed. Yep, he always got Fig Newtons. What a weird kid! With a whole candy aisle of options, he always got Fig Newtons!

“You always just buy the Sunday paper at Kroger and you always go before I wake up and you never ask me if I want Fig Newtons!”

Right, right, and right again. Ok, in order – Yes, I always buy the Sunday paper at Kroger because it’s right down the road and the paper is discounted. Yes, I always go before he wakes up – hey, have you ever tried waking a teenager on a weekend? And I never ask if he wants Fig Newtons – after all, it’s hard to ask when he’s still at home sleeping!

Being Mom (and being stupid) I ask, “Do you want to go with me this week?”

“Oh yeah, Mom – 7am on Sunday morning I want to go to Kroger with you. NOT!”

We sit quietly for a few moments, just snuggling. Then he says “But you can bring me some Fig Newtons!”

Tuesday, August 08, 2006


Yesterday a reader mentioned that she hadn't previously posted a comment because she didn't want to intrude. While I greatly appreciate her thoughtfulness, I'd like to encourage anyone who stops by to please feel free to comment!

I discussed this with my son, who was totally thrilled earlier this week when he noticed that there have been 95 peeks at our profile. "95 Mom! Almost 100 people are out there with us!"
He and I share the same point of view-we enjoy having people out here "with us".

When we decided to begin blogging together we had several long conversations about what we wanted the focus of our blog to be, about what we wanted to accomplish. We mentioned things like:

  • sharing our journey through loss, trauma, and the grief process
  • providing a place where people in similar situations can go and realize that they are not alone
  • letting people who have no idea what it's like gain a little understanding
  • helping people to not be afraid to approach people who come from situations different than their own
  • sharing this new life that we've found together
  • letting people know that the journey never ends but it does get easier
  • "meeting" new friends

There's more (Jonathon's an excellent note-taker, he filled an entire legal pad with notes during these project-planning conversations!) but you get the picture.

Catherine, thank you so much for letting me know that you were here! Please know that you are not at all intruding.

Welcome Everyone! Welcome to our place of survival and healing! Com'on in and sit a spell. Poke around in the archives. We're glad you stopped by for a visit! Please come again!

Monday, August 07, 2006

Sometimes I Cry

A few days ago I received an email from a friend who shared with me that something I had written made her cry. In sharing this fact with me, she gave me a gift.

I needed a gift that day; it had not been a good day. The timing of the arrival of her gift to me could not have been better.

The gift she gave me? The gift of tears. Permission to cry, to feel the pain, to allow the tears to flow and cleanse away the sadness that had been weighing heavy on my soul. To feel the empowering release of tears, to stand up to the pain and embrace life once more.

I seldom cry anymore. To anyone who points this out, I wryly suggest that perhaps I have cried so much that I’m just out of tears. I’m not. I’ve simply moved beyond the “constantly weeping widow” stage. Well beyond it. It’s now simply a place I go and visit every now and again.

Today I “visited” an old journal of mine – my writings in the year following the loss of my husband and daughter. And now I’ll share an excerpt with you:

I sat staring at my newborn, tears flooding my tired eyes. How perfect she was! She lay bundled in a soft warm blanket, tucked safely in my aching arms. Her eyes were closed, her soft dark hair brilliant against alabaster skin, her tiny fingers relaxed. I almost expected her to let out a wail of contradiction at any moment. “What plans I have made for you, my Chloe Ray” I spoke in my mind. My voice was gone, hiding somewhere as not to betray my agony. “Had,” I corrected myself. “What plans I had made.” My baby was jolted into this world too little to live, too precious to die. I had failed.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Yeah, right

Ok, so this really stinks. Swim team is done practicing for the summer. It's our once a year break and this year, for the first time EVER, the swim team doesn't get to swim for free during open swim times. So I won't be swimming until the team practices start up again on Sept. 11.

Now what am I supposed to do with the rest of my summer?

My mom says I can clean my room. Yeah, right - like that's gonna happen. She also suggested mowing the lawn and pulling the weeds. She's real helpful like that.


Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Dear Mr. President ...

While doing a much-needed cleaning of my home office today, I stumbled upon a copy of a letter my son wrote to the President when he was just 7 years old. Here is what he wrote:

Dear Mr. President,
My name is Jonathon. I’m seven years old. I’m in second grade at Rayla Elementary School but I go to third grade for math because I’m really good at math. When I grow up I want to be a doctor.
I saw you on TV at the inauguration. I saw your dad watching you. My dad died. You are so lucky because you have your dad. I saw Mrs. Cheney at the inauguration too. Mrs. Cheney is very nice. I met her at Ele’s Place when she visited Michigan. Ele’s Place is for kids whose parents have died.
I need to tell you something important. My mom gets less money from social security because she works hard. I looked up social security on the internet. It was started in 1935 as a savings plan for when people got old and couldn’t work anymore. It was added in 1939 to protect widows and children of workers. On April 7, 2000 President Clinton signed the Senior Citizens Freedom to Work Act, which means that old people can work and not lose their social security money. President Clinton forgot the widows and children.
We learned about discrimination in school. It’s like slavery, when some people have rights and others don’t. The Senior Citizens Freedom to Work Act discriminates against young widows. We don’t always have enough money to pay the bills and I’m worried that there won’t be any food to eat. Sometimes my mom doesn’t even buy her medicine. It’s not fair. My mom is starting to teach me how to stay home alone after school because she says we can’t afford day care when she is working. It’s very scary.
On January 20, 2002, you said “we will reform social security and medicare, sparing our children from struggles we have the power to prevent.” Children need your help now, Mr. President. Can you fix this?
p.s. please write back

And again I find myself feeling frustrated by the lack of resources available for young widows raising children. Ok, ok, so I’m 7 ½ years into this now so I’ve become an unwilling expert of sorts but it’s still not right.

And I don’t mean just government resources – although that would be a good place to start. As my young son pointed out in his letter, senior citizens (who are more likely to have finished raising their children and have their mortgage paid off, etc.) have the right to work without losing social security benefits while widows under the age of 65 are penalized for working and paying taxes. That's right - penalized for paying into the system.

Local resources are few and far between. Federal, State, local agencies and charities all want the previous years tax returns as proof of income - even though that income no longer existed. The death certificate iteself didn't even bring that point home for most of these people! And widows groups are inevitably filled with white-haired old ladies. Sure we share the same pain but the issues of a young widow with a 5-year-old are different than the issues of a 70-year-old widow.

Neighbors? Well, I can’t quite answer this one. We were in the middle of relocating from Missouri to Michigan when my husband died of a heart attack. So I didn’t exactly have neighbors. But a few months later when I bought my house, my new neighbors were a little, well, unsure of what to say. One would wave every morning and occasionally chat for a minute or two, and often had BBQ’s in the backyard but didn’t invite me even once because, as she said, she “only invites couples”. One was so uncomfortable with me talking to her husband that she would come running across the street whenever we dared to have a conversation (and no, she didn’t come join us to be nice- she was anything but- and he doesn’t speak anymore) One very nice elderly neighbor would just cry and pat my hand and say “I know just how you feel” but she didn’t really, because her husband died when he was in his 80’s and even her grandchildren were grown (but I still appreciated her taking the time to smile or wave or say SOMETHING). Which brings me to the rest of them, who said NOTHING. They would talk about me behind my back (told to me by the neighbor who “only invites couples”) but APPROACH me? Say HELLO? ANYTHING? Nope. I would smile and wave sometimes, only to feel frustrated because they couldn’t be bothered to do even that. I’m sure it might have been different if we had been established in the neighborhood when he died, but this was my experience.

Friends? They were back in Missouri. Didn’t really know anyone here. Tried to make friends but hey, let’s face it. Death makes people uncomfortable. Sometimes they really don’t know what to do or say.

Parents of my son’s classmates? In the first weeks after my husband died, some very nice people did some very nice things. One brought over a ham so I wouldn’t have to cook. One took my son to the boat show with his little boy for an afternoon. One even brought her little girl to the funeral, “so Jona will have someone his own age to sit with”.
And several arranged play dates. But the reality of paying the bills forced me into a more-than-full-time job 2 weeks after the funeral, so I was unable to return play dates and within one month everyone was back to their regular schedule because yes, they could do that and I was completely alone dealing with child care issues and a broken-hearted little boy who wouldn’t run or play or eat or even sleep.

Enter the school bus driver. Who was watching my little boy just fade away. One day she noticed he fell asleep on the bus, and (afterward) she said she “couldn’t bear to wake up the tiny pale boy with the huge dark circles under his eyes”. So she left him on the bus and drove the rest of her route. I was PANICKED! My 5-year-old didn’t come home from school! Afterward, she explained and apologized profusely and from that date on she would call if he were sleeping on the bus. And for the entire rest of the school year it literally was the only time he would sleep. Bless her for watching over him.

Family? Family was the reason we moved back to Michigan, because my Dad was fighting liver cancer. 11 months later my Dad died.

Teachers? I wish all schools would approach this subject with their teachers, so when the next little boy, 3 weeks after his Daddy dies, says “Mrs. So and So, I’m feeling so sad today and I just can’t stop crying inside. Can I call my Mom?” the teacher doesn’t respond with “Just sit down and do your work, we don’t need to talk about that here” (shared with me by the classroom aide).

School counselors? Let me just say that I believe there’s a special place in Hell for the school counselor who decided to start a grief support group for kids who have lost PETS in our school, where there were 4 children from 3 families who had lost a parent within 2 months. She refused to include them because “It’s just too hard, and it might frighten the other children to know that things like that can happen”. HEY, MORON – do these kids already go to school with MY kid? They already KNOW that things like that can happen - DUH!

Widowhood is unbelievably difficult. There is a great need for places where young families in crisis can turn for help.