Tag Archives: loss

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.