Lisa’s Turn: K & J, Mommy Is the First Star You’ll See In the Sky

I’m writing to share an emotional story about a beautiful woman in her mid-forties, married to a wonderfully kind and handsome cousin of mine, who died last night from a rare cancer diagnosed too late to cure.  This gorgeous and generous couple have two small children under the age of 10.  They are understandably sad, angry, and confused.  How does a child comprehend the death of a parent?  What can be done to help children in an awful situation like this?

As a healthcare advocate, I’ve helped many clients with terminal diseases.  An advocate is still helpful when death is inevitable, ensuring physical, emotional, and spiritual comfort are available when no cure is possible.  Yes, I know dying is part of the life cycle, but I still don’t like it.  I love being alive and knowing my existence on Earth.  It’s hard enough to wrap my mind around transitioning to whatever existence follows this one, but what about a child who loses a parent?  How can that child be helped?

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The best SOUL SHERPA can offer is this:  Let a child know when a parent dies, their heart and the love it contains lives on.  Children need a concrete reality; the idea of an imaginary place called heaven is usually too complex a concept for young minds to truly understand and find real comfort in.  A child who has lost a parent needs to relate to their emotional and physical loss in a way that makes sense.  I’ve found explaining that mommy’s/daddy’s physical body was too sick to live any longer, but that mommy’s/daddy’s heart and the love it holds for their child has simply moved to a new place.  It can be found in the first star in each evening’s sky.  As the sunset fades and twilight descends, revealing the first stars in the evening sky, a child can see proof that his/her parent is in a physical place that can be seen with their own little eyes.

From high above, a Mommy Star/Daddy Star, healthy and without pain, can see everything, hear everything.  All stars are miracles to behold, regardless of your spiritual or scientific perspective on how the universe came to existence.  Children could care less about that debate (as do I.)  What’s important and comforting is a star is a beautiful way to remember someone and feel close to them.  Stars are breathtaking creations, however they came to be, and for one to offer comfort to a grieving child is a beautiful thing.

A child can understand a Mommy Star/Daddy Star needs to sleep.  While the sun shines, stars rest.  When it’s time for the sun to sleep, stars awaken to look upon those they will always love and care for, albeit from a distance.  A child will find some comfort in the ritual of spotting their Mommy or Daddy Star in the evening, seeing it bright and vibrant, knowing it shines with love for the precious little one it left behind.  Waiting for the first star of the evening to appear can help keep Mommy/Daddy alive in small, aching hearts and still-developing minds.  A child’s sleep pattern is often disrupted by the trauma of losing a parent.  Knowing that child can climb into bed at night and sleep, while their Mommy/Daddy Star is watching over them, has been helpful to many children I’ve worked with in the past.  The experience can provide consistency and comfort until a child is old enough to comprehend physical death and engage in the process of deciding what he/she believes awaits each of us eventually.

So I say to my second cousins, beautiful, grasping to understand where their Mommy is, and grieving, your Mommy will always love you and watch over you from afar.  You can see her heart and all the love inside it.  Just look up!  She will be the first shining star you see in tonight’s, and every night’s, evening sky.

J and D, we love you and K & J.  You are all stars to us!

 

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