Tag Archives: grief

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.


Children and Grief


Many people feel that grief comes when death sneaks in and steals someone we love.  This is true- when a loved one dies, we experience grief.  For many people, grief is expressed through tears, sadness, and loneliness.  Some fall into a deep depression.  Others may decide to channel their grief in more positive ways- maybe by focusing on work more, or picking up a hobby.  All of these are important, and each method can be an effective way to deal with grief.  The fact of the matter is… grief can come in many forms.  The most important thing, however, is recognizing the signs and symptoms of grief.

It is also important to understand that grief is not simply experienced because of the loss associated with death.  Grief can be defined as keen mental suffering or distress over affliction or loss; sharp sorrow; or painful regret.  Dictionary.com also defines grief as a cause or occasion of keen distress or sorrow.  So while it is important to note that grief is associated with the loss of a loved one, it is also important to note that the term “loss” can be brought about by factors other than death.

When a child loses a parent as a result of divorce, shouldn’t that also be considered a form of “loss”?  Could it be possible that a child might grieve much in the same way as if someone had passed away?  If this is possible, then what can be done for those children who are experiencing this type of loss?  What can be done to ensure that these children are able to receive the nurturing and support that should be given when one experiences grief? 

Regardless of whether a child is experiencing grief because of death or divorce, they still need interventions that are designed to help them cope with, and overcome, the grief that they are experiencing.  There are many signs that may accompany loss and/or grief.  When children become nonchalant about the things in life that were once of importance to them, take notice.  When there is a change in behavior, and that child is experiencing difficulties in school, take notice.  If a child’s grades take a sudden decline, it is time to take notice.  There are always signs…. no matter how slight.  As a parent or caregiver, it is up to youto take notice of the changes that children may be experiencing.  No one is going to advocate for a child the way his/her parents can.

There are many options that are available when it comes to helping a child get over the loss in his/ her life.  Most importantly, parents need to spend time with their children and LISTEN to them. It’s okay, and actually encouraged, for parents to have “heart to heart” talks with their children.  Being honest about what you are feeling, will help both the parents and children.  When a parent walks away because of divorce, the parent that remains must be a strong foundation for the children that are involved.  Children need to understand that the divorce was not their fault, and that they are still loved. 

It may also be beneficial to enroll children who are experiencing loss in some form of counseling.  Mental Health Counselor are equipped to handle these type of situations, and this also gives children additional opportunities to speak with someone about what they are feeling.  In addition, keeping that child active and involved provides an outlet, allows the child to make friends, and may even give them an opportunity to blow off a little steam in a positive environment.

Divorce is something that no one wants to experience.  However, for many families, it is a reality.  Through it all, helping children cope with this loss should be a top priority for divorced parents.  Realizing that grief is a part of life, is one thing.  Actually taking the steps to cope with, and resolve, the effects of grief takes guts.  Know , understand, and accept grief as a natural entity, and approach it accordingly.  At the end of the day, when parents work together for the sake of their children, everyone can win.

Upcoming Projects

SharingBo John’s Train” with the world has truly been a dream come true.  When I initially published this book, I didn’t expect the response that I have received.  I always figured that regardless of whether others purchased the book or not, I had fulfilled a personal goal, and I was truly satisfied with that.  HOWEVER, as people read the book, I continue to receive positive feedback, and I feel truly blessed that others read this story, enjoy it, and are able to relate to it.

Bo John's Train, Dana Walton, Trains, Children, Fathers, DaughterBo John was my father, and it had always been my desire to share his stories with the world.  Growing up with him around was pretty cool indeed.  There was always laughter, for he was a practical joker.  He loved to tell stories, and to this day, we still share those stories and laugh.  In conversations, various family members will quote some of his one-liners, and we laugh because we all remember the exact time and place when that particular statement was made.

At the moment I am focusing on marketing this book and getting the word out about “Bo John” and his trainOn Valentine’s Day, I will be speaking at a Black History Luncheon in Sanford, Florida; and a few days later, I will be greeting some of my readers at a Book Signing- also in Sanford.  I am very excited because I am a native of Sanford, and I am so excited to have the opportunity to share my book with the community in which I was raised.  In addition, many of these people actually knew my father.  So, it will be cool to share memories with his classmates and friends.

I have many plans for “Bo John’s Train”.  This book can be used as an aid to help children who are suffering from grief, and I intend to explore that further by using my book to help counsel children who are in the grieving process.  I am also planning to participate in various Book Expos in the Atlanta, Georgia area and beyond.  I will also continue reading to classrooms and library patrons.  It is my desire to see “Bo John’s Train” on library shelves, and this will be my next endeavor.  I have several other projects up my sleeve, but I’m not quite ready to speak on those just yet.  I am so overwhelmed by the excitement and responsibility that comes along with being a published author.  I feel such a deep sense of commitment to sharing the story of “Bo John’s Train” as well as other adventures my father had.  Please stay tuned as I continue to share Bo John’s legacy and make him proud.Bo John's Train, Dana Walton, father, trains, grief, children

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.

Bo John’s Train

Dana Walton, Bo John's TrainHello,

My name is Dana Walton, and I am the author of “Bo John’s Train”.  I am an Educator, currently living near Atlanta, Georgia. I have taught elementary school for over twelve years in the states of Florida, Georgia, and Maryland.  I have also taught in the United Arab Emirates in the emirate of Abu Dhabi.  I have one son, Ryan, and he is nine years old.  In my spare time, I enjoy reading, traveling, bowling, going to the movies, shopping, and clipping coupons.

I am so excited to have the opportunity to share this book with the world.  “Bo John’s Train” is about a train engineer and the way he has touched the people of a small townMy father, Robert Lee Walton Jr., was the inspiration for this book.  It seemed as if everyone in our town knew him.  His nickname was Bo John.  He was an engineer for CSX Transportation. He actually drove trains! I have some great memories of my father wearing his blue overalls, red and white handkerchief around his neck, and blue and white striped conductor’s hat.

bo john's train, bo john, trains, Dana Walton

Bo John (my dad and inspiration for my book)

I wrote this book as a tribute to my father.  He had such a positive impact on the lives he touched.  He had such a huge smile and he was always smiling.  He was a happy person and fun to be around. I remember the jokes he told and the many stories he shared about working on the railroad.  Our house was not too far from the railroad tracks, and he would always blow the train whistle as he passed our house.  When we were little, my mom would take my sister and I to see our dad as he passed by driving the train.  We would sit in the car and wait for the train to pass by.  My Dad would lean out the engine window and wave at us as the train roared by.  Sometimes he would tip his blue and white striped conductor’s hat as he rode on past the railroad crossing.  Although I miss him every day, I can still smile as I reminisce about my childhood and the love he had for his family, his car, and his freight train.

In December 2005, my father passed away after his battle with cancer.  This was a very difficult time for my family.  We still think about him all the time.  At family gatherings, people still talk about the jokes and funny stories he would share.  Bo John’s Train is my way of paying tribute to the man who is directly responsible for making me into the woman I am today.  He taught me how to be independent and how to love others.  He was a strong believer in education and I know that he would be proud of all of my accomplishments.  I also know that he would be proud to be the main character in “Bo John’s Train”.  Whenever I hear a train whistle, I think of him.  After reading this book, I hope you will too.