Tag Archives: death of a loved one

How do you cope?

How do you cope with a bad situation? How do you cope when someone you love has a disease? What if that disease is a terminal disease? When my father was diagnosed with Cancer, I didn’t want to believe the diagnosis. Of course I went through the entire spectrum of emotions- despair, grief, disbelief, denial, hope…. I initially thought that it was a nightmare, and it was. The only problem is that I never woke up from that nightmare. I couldn’t believe that my father- the man who meant more to me than any other man-had Cancer. I couldn’t believe that we didn’t see it… Why didn’t we see the symptoms in time?

My father had a little accident at work one day. I believe it was a fall of some sort. Well he went to the hospital, and it was through their testing that it was discovered that he had Cancer. Had he not had that fall, who knows how long we would have been in the dark about his condition. It was after this discovery that he had to receive extensive treatments to battle this awful disease. Initially, I thought that everything would be okay. I figured that he would be cured, and then we’d go back to living our lives. I figured we had many more years left. I just knew that he would have the opportunity to see his grandsons grow up.

I was wrong. I watched as my father deteriorated. This big, tall, strong, healthy man now had to have chemotherapy sessions, and then his kidneys failed. How does one deal with that? Although the situation was dire, we still continued to smile and do our best to keep his spirits uplifted. That was really hard because all I wanted to do was cry. I felt like my world was coming to an end. I will never forget the day when he whispered to me “Dana, I’m dying.” Although it tore me up inside, I smiled and told him “No you’re not. You are going to be okay.” I remember leaving the hospital that day and driving back to Maryland where I was living at the time. I remember going back to work. I also remember getting to the end of the day- two days later, and my Principal telling me the news that my father had passed. Apparently my mom had called her earlier that morning and told her the news and asked her not to tell me until the end of the school day because she didn’t want me to be upset in front of my students.

I am thankful that she waited to tell me the news. I wouldn’t have been any good if I had known that morning right after it happened. Since then, I have accepted the fact that life is just not fair. Sometimes I still cannot understand why my father was taken from us so soon. I feel like I am missing out on so much. I know that my son and nephew are missing out on spending time with their grandfather and learning how to grow up and be a real man- a lesson I know he would have been the best man to teach.

During those long rides back and forth between Maryland and Florida to visit my father while he was sick, I had a lot of time to think. It was during this time that I knew I had to give some recognition to the most important man in my life. My father instilled such strong values in my sister and I, and he was such a wonderful person. I knew that I had to share him and his legacy with the world. “Bo John’s Train” is the beginning of my tribute to my father, Robert Lee Walton Jr. Sharing his life with others is what I do. Through “Bo John’s Train”, I am able to give others an insight to the man that he was. Seeing the response that others have when I talk about him or do presentations in schools makes me so proud. It took me a while to realize it, but this is the way that I cope.

Helping Children Overcome Grief & How Bo John’s Train Can Help

Tragedy can strike any one of us.  Facing grief and dealing with heartache is difficult for anyone.  Even adults who believe that they must be strong and feel that they have to hold everything together for the sake of their families must surely find it hard also.  It has been my experience that the individuals who seem as though they are holding it all together may need the most support in times of loss.  When are the warriors of the family able to have a time to grieve? Taking the time to fully grieve can only help the healing process.  Each person must grieve in his/her own way, and also in his/her own time.  But ultimately, one must be able to grieve in order to accept the loss and move on to the next phase.  This is never an easy task.  When a loved one departs, it is impossible to just forget about that person and move on.  We all deal with grief in different ways.  The most important thing is to deal with it.

This also holds true for children.  As adults, we must remember that children and precious and sensitive.  They cannot understand death so easily.  During a time of loss, it is up to adults to ensure that children are given special attention and consideration.  We simply cannot expect for them to understand everything that is going on.  Nor can we expect them to just go outside and play while the adults take care of the arrangements.  It is our duty as their caretakers and loved ones to ensure that these children who are affected by grief are made to understand that death is a natural occurrence.  Although we are never really prepared when death visits our family, there are ways to help children understand or at least cope with the emotions that come flooding in.  Being present to answer any questions that children may have is important.  Simply sitting down with children and listening to how they feel will make a world of difference in the life of a child.  Using puppets can also provide success in helping to understand death.  In addition, helping these children cope through the use of literature can also serve as a bridge to understanding how life/death affect us all.

“Bo John’s Train” can help children cope with grief.  Everyone loves a great book!  “Bo John’s Train” is an excellent story that can be used to help children cope with the grieving process.  In the story, Bo John is a beloved character who disappears for a while and this has a tremendous impact on the townspeople whose lives he has touchedQuestions arise as to Bo John’s whereabouts, and this is an excellent opportunity to ask children what they think may have happened to Bo John.  Although Bo John reappears in the story, he eventually leaves again, and the reader is left questioning where exactly Bo John has disappeared to, and when will he return.

Giving children an opportunity to answer open ended questions about Bo John’s whereabouts, allows them to cope with the loss they may be feeling in their own lives.  Grieving is never easy, but it is a process that we all must go through at some point in our lives.  If we have an outlet to help us along in that process, then perhaps we will reach some form of acceptance sooner.  The same is true for children.  WE must provide an outlet that allows for expression.  Through role play, literature, and self-expression we can help children overcome their grief and learn to cope with personal loss.