The Grief of a Child.

by Lori Dwyer on April 18, 2011 · 50 comments

My child, just like me, he’s grieving. Mourning, for his father, his idol, his best friend.

It’s difficult. For both of us.

I think about how much time I spend thinking, reliving, writing, processing… and I’m an adult. I imagine how much the same it must be for my little boy, at three years old… and I almost sob. Without the framework and resources I have, this child is adrift.

The very best i have got for him is love, and as much patience as I can muster.

He’s regressed in age, in so many respects. His attachment to his dummy has returned three fold, toilet training has gone out the window.

And it’s very much like twins, with my eighteen month old as his companion. His temper tantrums, always legendary, are now explosive and volcanic. He is anxious, stress about the tiniest things.

And the best I can do is love him, and give him words… words to replace the tantrums. Words to express, in some way that I can try to understand, what he is feeling and when.

Words like ‘sad’. ‘Angry’. ‘I miss Daddy’.

A lot of the time, my good natured, passive, day dreaming little boy is, I think, at as much peace as he can be, when his heartache is so fresh. He tells me, often that daddy is in heaven up with the stars, higher than the clouds, higher than the plane. Toohigh for us to go and get him, to high for him to come back.

And he tells me in heaven, Daddy has a purple house and an orange car and a copyof the PlaySchool Dinosaurs DVD, which my little man now refuses to watch. Because Daddy loved all of those things.

And other times, he is a ball of pain and rage and tears and fear. He tells me, alternatively, that he misses his daddy and wants him back, or tha he doesn’t want his daddy, doesn’t like his daddy.

Either way, it breaks my heart.

But I do my best to be patient, and wrap my child in cuddles and smother him with kisses. because I understand. I want to howl and cry and scream, most days. Most day, it is only the structure of social normality that sees me resisting the urge to play out my anxiety in public, and scream at people to shut that door, or stop looking at me, the way my baby boy does.

It’s difficult, and it takes every ounce of my patience and strength, especially living here, so far away anyone who will babysit… some days, I feel like my brain is shrinking and corroding to a soundtrack of PlaySchool and the Wiggles.

But I think they deserve it, my children,both of them. They deserve their mum, as much as possible,in a place where it’s beautiful and peaceful. And they deserve her to be peaceful, and patient, as much as she can be.

And how can I not be…? When I know just how they feel?


We are driving down a mountain, on the way back from the suburbs to Paradise, and I am going just over the speed limit.

“Mummy,” says my son from the back seat, “Daddy says slow down.”

And I do, of course… wouldn’t you?

And I round the next bend, and there’s a truck, and a car on the other side next to it, moving as slow as a turtle.

I just don’t know what to make of that.

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{ 50 comments… read them below or add one }

CRAP Mamma May 11, 2011 at 10:05 pm

For some reason Lori I just clicked on this post by accident and I'm glad I did. None of us can ever appreciate what you and your littlies are going through.
For what it's worth you're doing a great job.
Keep the thoughts coming.
Keep writing them.
Your honesty, whilst I'm sure is unsettling for many, must be such good therapy for you. Cathartic. Reassuring for you and for us as we stand idly by.

As for the car thing – kids are intuitive. I'm sure they 'know' more than we do at times. Your babes are lucky to have you as you are to have them.
Thanks for sharing your thoughts. Sending love to you and your little ones from a stranger and a friend. Jacqui xx


Tracy May 5, 2011 at 1:07 pm

I am just lost for words, I have been reading and following for a while but until this one not known what to post. I still really don't know, except to say I think you are doing an amazing job. The lives of your children and all of those in paradise are better for it.(they may not know it or think it but they are) Thankyou for sharing your often frank and straight up thoughts, don't go changing that. As much as it is an outlet for you, so it is for many of us who read and follow you. My Sisters saying after loosing her son in an MVA…"It's just Fucked!" And isn't that just so true? Love to You, Chop and Bump xxx


Kellie April 21, 2011 at 9:41 pm

Through tears, all I can think to write is: you are so very fortunate to have each other. Wishing you beauty and peace. xx


Donna April 20, 2011 at 12:40 pm

Oh that gives me goosebumps and a lump in my throat. he has a special connection, and always will, to his daddy. And you, brave & wondrous you, are doing an AMAZING job. I cannot bear to think how agonisingly hard it is, wishing you so much peace x


J from Ireland April 20, 2011 at 10:07 am

Shivers down my spine at the last bit. Your poor little man. My thoughts and prayers are with you always even if I hardly comment.


Brooke Farmer April 19, 2011 at 9:39 pm

I have no idea whether or not this has been answered previously, but is your son in any kind of counseling? It may sound crazy with him being so young, but my son was in counseling at around that age to deal with his memories and experiences regarding domestic violence. I thought it was such a ridiculous suggestion at the time, but it gave him the words he needed to deal with things and also, I think, I of validated his anger in a way that me telling him it was okay just couldn't.


Kelloggsville April 19, 2011 at 6:27 am

It sounds like you are doing well and helping him deal with his emotions very well too. Try to take advantage of any child related services available in your area, any thing at all may help to ease the burden on you. My dad came to visit me and I have no doubt at all that Chop's dad won't be doing the same for him too. It happens. xxx


Diana Doyle April 19, 2011 at 2:56 am

You had an angel watching over you for sure! WOW! After having many 'coincidences' having happened to me since I lost my mum, sister and daughter, I believe there is no such thing as a coincidence!

Thanks for sharing, gave me goosebumps!
Diana x


Melissa April 18, 2011 at 8:36 pm

Oh I have the chills. What an amazing moment.
I can't imagine how hard it must be to mother a grieving child, especially all by yourself. I hope you both have some support – even though you're far away in your peaceful place. It sounds like you are doing a wonderful job – the best you can. Hang in there.


Kakka April 18, 2011 at 8:25 pm

I want to say something meaningful, but all I can do is hug you from across the miles. That and send you strength to continue the wonderful job you are doing. xxx


Watershedd April 18, 2011 at 7:46 pm

Wow. If ever you needed a reason to believe your beloved was there wtih you, watching and protecting you, you jsut had it.


MaidInAustralia April 18, 2011 at 7:24 pm

Sweetie, you know I am always there for you. I gave up a long time working out how the world/universe works. But I do believe that Tony is looking over you. And that kids see things we may not. And may it give him comfort.


River April 18, 2011 at 5:36 pm

"Daddy says slow down"
Tony is watching over you all, what more proof do you need?


In Real Life April 18, 2011 at 1:54 pm

*HUGS* for you and your children.


rainbowbrite73 April 18, 2011 at 11:46 am

It is so hard as a parent to see your children in so much pain.
My exhusband committed suicide last September and left our 4 children heartbroken confused, angry, lost. :(
All you can do is be their for them, hold them and let them cry when they need it.
You are an amazing mother and your kids will be fine because they have you.
Your man is obviously still looking out for his family xx


Toushka Lee April 18, 2011 at 11:43 am

love and hugs to Chop. So much to say, none of which will help of course. Thinking of you as always. much love.


Megan April 18, 2011 at 11:23 am

I'm stunned into silent tears by that last part of your post. Always listen to the children when they say things like that. Children are attuned to things we've learned to tune out. Chop in particular will be a voice for Tony. Hopefully it brings Chop some peace as well, poor, sweet tiny man.


Karen April 18, 2011 at 10:50 am

This post made my breath catch in my throat and sob….children, so fragile, so sensitive and in touch with realms we often can't perceive or 'feel' any more as adults. I'm glad you listened. I truly am. I admire your ability to be patient. I, despite having had 5, have little patience and cartoons just drive me nuts. It's like you're all more in tune with each other and even closer than before…and your husband continues to watch over you. How beautiful is that?


Crissy April 18, 2011 at 9:58 am

I have been reading your blog for so long and never know quite what to say but this one really touched my heart. Your little man is doing so well to be able to express how he is feeling in the best way he can and you're doing an incredible job to be there for him when you are grieving yourself. You are doing all you can do, take comfort in that and your little man will get through this. You all will. You are an inspiration, Lori. All my love and best wishes xx


alliecat April 18, 2011 at 9:13 am

The grief of children is heartbreaking. His message from daddy is goose-bump inspiring. Amazing. You are an amazing mother, doing what you have to, to get your family through. Hugs to you xxx


Kristina Hughes April 18, 2011 at 7:20 am

Wow and wow! I can't begin to imagine how much that hurts for you to watch and for Chop to feel. And hearing his daddy tell you to slow down… no words on that one.
You sound like you are doing absolutely everything you can for your kids. You sound amazing, Lori xx


Jane April 18, 2011 at 7:04 am

I really do believe Tony is looking after you all. And I really do believe that you are doing a fantastic job with your babies. Chop will eventually come through this as a stronger and more resilient little man. You are amazing. xxx


mustangmidlife April 18, 2011 at 6:42 am

Lori – I have goose bumps from the top of my head to the the tips of my toes from your son's comment about Daddy wanting you to slow down. I love how children are so connected to the things we just can't see anymore.
I have no doubt that Tony was in the car with you.


Janet NZ April 18, 2011 at 5:06 am

Bekkles already said it! – there went another shooting star… :-) Ihave heard it said that the animals you love never leave you… Why then, would it be any different with the people you love? … xxx


Kristina Hughes April 18, 2011 at 4:37 am

This comment has been removed by the author.


Sandy April 18, 2011 at 1:51 pm

I just got goose bumps reading that last part… I've always been told that kids are more sensitive, more open to sesing or communication with ghosts, spirits, energies, etc. They've yet to become jaded by the world, so I would absolutely know what to make of it… Tony is with you. And even if he doesn't sit on ur shoulder or write you a letter…. he's with you and your babies.
It seems liike it was very natural for your little man to simply hear his father's words and to share them with you.
Maybe it would be a good thing to remind him of that time in the car when Daddy told us to slow down. Remind him that Daddy spoke to him, is still with him.
Only you know if that would be a good thing or not. Maybe you already have.
Either way… ur doing everything as "right" as u can be with a situation that is so, so wrong.

Keep on hangin in there… it can only go up from here, eh?


bekkles April 18, 2011 at 2:21 am

And there, I think, was another shooting star!


Hear Mum Roar April 18, 2011 at 12:49 am

I think you're doing a beautiful job with Chop:)

Also, make of that situation in the car what you will. I personally think though, that it is exactly what you think it was. He still loves you and is still there to protect you in a completely different way.


pinkpegasus April 17, 2011 at 10:00 pm

Oh my god that gave me shivers. You are being watched over. I have always believed children in their innocence and open mindedness can talk to angels and fairies in a way adults cannot. xx


Salamander April 17, 2011 at 9:51 pm

Thank goodness for Chop he has a mummy as wonderful as you.

I have no doubt Tony was there for Chop in the back of the car. And I have no doubt Chop can see him, when he's not so angry that he blocks him out. I sent you an email a while back about my son, and what he sees. There's no coincidence, my love – Tony is trying to look after you all. It's the least he can do. xxxxxx


nadinewrites108 April 17, 2011 at 8:26 pm

Children are so much more 'in tune' than we are. It is their very innocence, their lack of coping strategies and rational categorising and inner censorship that allow them to sense and to hear and to know the other worlds that we have blocked out completely with all our 'growing up'. Trust your little man. He knows what he needs and every way he expresses it is right for him right now.

And take a leaf from his book – express where you're at without censorship as often as you can.



Sarah April 17, 2011 at 8:24 pm

Oh wow, just wow. I have no doubt that Tony is looking out for you guys xx


Brenda April 17, 2011 at 7:45 pm

You are doing the best that you can. Just keep doing


Kellie April 17, 2011 at 7:44 pm

My little girl sometimes speaks to my Nan, who passed away about five years before she was born. Kids are so amazing when it comes to connecting, I think your little guy has a special relationship with his Dad that will only grow stronger.
Love x


Penny April 17, 2011 at 7:22 pm

Reading that gave me chills, you give me hope xx


Kat April 17, 2011 at 7:12 pm

you are doing a great job of being there with your kids..dont under estimate how hard

I cried hard about the last paragraph, I like to believe I have my father looking after me, but the rational part is he there? do I really want him to watch EVERYthing I'm presumably I can't choose if this is the case..regardless it's comforting to think that someone is looking when I forget to look out for myself..

grief in some ways is simpler for the young, though he can't express it n words his feelings are simpler..I doubt if there are "what if's ?:" in his haunt you…

very very hard thing to watch..the closest I have expereince is when my baby son used to wait by the window for his dad and when he had left and he never came again..the simple disapearence of someone so large in such a closed world is so heartbreaking to caused a very large hole in my heart watching that.


Kelley April 17, 2011 at 6:57 pm

coincidence. probably.

But make of it what you will sweetie.

Grief is hard for little ones cause if WE can't process it… well you already know the rest.


macsnorky April 17, 2011 at 6:57 pm

Lori, children feel, way more than adults, because they don't have to deal with prejudices like we do. They don't know that some people are uncomfortable with thoughts of spirits and angels. They just tell you what they see and hear.

Seems, in this instance at least, that your little man has a gift. If it doesn't make you uncomfortable, encourage it, so long as it doesn't stress him or make him any more scared or upset. You may find there's a reason for it.


Lucy April 17, 2011 at 6:42 pm

Lori, grief and kids is the most complex and unsolvable thing. You have my empathy entirely. My nephew is now 11. His grief is like a lava – always changing, but always there. Sometimes red hot and furious. Other times cool and hard. No win. Yet.

And I have no doubt Tony is watching out for you all. xx


Queensland Girl April 17, 2011 at 6:33 pm

Wow, kind of takes your breath away!

You are doing all you can, it will take time for all of you to start to heal. I totally respect your strength and hope that things get easier for you all soon.


Kanwalful April 17, 2011 at 5:49 pm

Tony is your guardian angel now. And Chop can probably feel him more than you do. As my elders say, children are more innocent and pure and hence can feel a lot more than we can. =)


What the Kell April 17, 2011 at 5:46 pm

I always hang on every word of your posts, but that last bit caught my breath! Much love and well wishes to you all xxx


Mrs J April 17, 2011 at 5:31 pm

Chop seems to be expressing alot of rage at his Dad for abandoning him, and unfortunately you are the one who has to bear the brunt of it all while trying to deal with your own grief & trauma. You have my utmost respect xo


A Daft Scots Lass April 17, 2011 at 5:25 pm

My heart goes out to him. It must be hard for the wee man to process it all.


coloursofsunset April 17, 2011 at 5:15 pm

I know exactly what to make of it. You have an angel watching over you. I have a hard time trying to explain to my almost-3-year old why Granddad isn't around anymore. Why he can't go see him. That it's not his fault, and that granddad still does and will always love him. It kills me. I can't imagine how much harder that must be to explain the same thing about Daddy. My heart aches for you and your kids.


Two Squared April 17, 2011 at 5:02 pm

He's looking out for you that little guy. Almost as much as you are for him. Love to you all.


Miss Pink April 17, 2011 at 4:59 pm

Wow. That gave me shivers. Do you really feel like Tony is still around? That there is something there after all of this?
Is Chop having therapy or anything for all this grief? I'm not even sure if they offer it for young kids? It might help, or at least give you some tools to be able to help him. But honestly? You are doing so so well with him.


marketingtomilk April 17, 2011 at 4:57 pm

You are doing the best you can, and it souns to me that that is just perfect. You are encouraging your little man to express his feelings an to talk and that is the most important thing. And of course to love him and to be there.
You are doing all those things.



Crystal Cheverie April 17, 2011 at 11:21 pm

I can only imagine how your heart breaks to see your little Chop go through all of that… I know, though, that he'll pull through this, and it will be because of you – because you gave him all of your love, patience and strength, even in the midst of your own pain and your desire to do exactly like him and scream.

Clearly Tony is watching over you all. HUG!!


thatblogyoudo April 17, 2011 at 11:06 pm

<3 hugs to you 3


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