Saturday, February 2, 2008

Lucas' Coping

Midi was pronounced dead on January 1st around 9PM. Nathan was pronounced dead at a little before 7AM on January 2nd. A few hours after Nathan died, I had a talk with Lucas. I asked him if he remembered that we were in a car accident. He said yes. Then I told him that because of the accident, we (Lucas and Papa) were a little hurt, but that we would be OK. And I told him that Ohmma (Mommy) and Nathan were hurt a lot and that they died. I told Lucas that we would not see them again. He then asked me if they were with Jesus. I told him yes. And I told him that in heaven they were not hurt anymore. I have no idea how he knew that they were with Jesus. We had not ever talked about death or heaven with him. Maybe someone did prior to my talk with him. But regardless, he seemed to accept that he wouldn't see them again.

For the first 27 days after the tragedy, Lucas did not weep over the loss of his mother and his twin brother. He observed everyone around him weeping. Whenever he saw me cry, I would explain to him that I was sad and that I missed Ohmma and Nathan very much. And I would ask him if he also missed them. When I would tell him that I am "very sad" he would say that he was only "a little sad". When I would tell him that I missed them "very much" he would say that he only missed them "a little bit". He would also sometimes try to avoid talking about it by acting silly. Sometimes he would even say cheerfully, "When I die, I'm going to see Ohmma and Nathan again." I was so amazed at how well he seemed to be coping. It seemed that he had moved on and that he fully accepted their absence. (In retrospect, it is obvious that he was using avoidance as a coping mechanism.)

But on January 29th grief broke through. Our friend Joe G. came over to play with him for a couple of hours while I went to see his therapist. Joe left about 5 minutes before I got home. When I got home, Lucas was crying inconsolably...the kind of crying where a child struggles to breathe. I immediately comforted him and he settled down some. A few minutes later, I took him to the bathroom where he continued to whimper and cry. I then asked him if he was sad because he missed Ohmma and Nathan. He nodded and immediately started sobbing like I've never seen him sob before. It broke all of our (Midi's parents were also there) hearts and we cried with him. He was finally able to express his grief and share it with us. While heartbroken, I also was relieved and grateful. For in the meeting with his therapist, she had expressed that one of her hopes was that Lucas would be able to express his grief with me.

Since that day, Lucas has shared with me two other times that he misses Ohmma and Nathan. It is so difficult to know what is going on for a child. I know that this loss will affect him in every stage of his life. While every parent should always concern themselves with the emotional health of their child, I feel an especially heavy burden for Lucas. This heavy burden, however, is my privilege. I will gladly suffer with my son. I'm so glad that his healing has begun. But Lucas has lost more than any of us, including me. He lost his mother and he lost his twin brother, his best friend. For Lucas' whole life prior to the tragedy, he was always with Nathan. I think they may have spent a total of a few hours in their four years of life (plus 35 weeks in the womb) apart from each other. So I think Lucas' healing is the most difficult. Yet I have hope that Lucas will heal completely.


yuri said...

Since you were a little boy, I have always had much admiration and respect for you, Mak. Now I can see how much of you is within Lucas. He is a remarkable child. Thank you for sharing him with me (and the rest of the family). I am here for you and Lucas - always.

Joe said...

it was so hard for me to leave that day. you are an amazing father Mark. thank you for letting me be a part of your and Lucas' life and healing.

john said...

Mark, thank you for helping us know how to be in prayer and to care for you and Lucas. It absolutely breaks my heart to hear of Lukie's grief, as it reminds me of my own loss. Those moments of deep pain, and loss of breath, are so important in the process. I remember my own birthday and realizing that my Dad would not be there to celebrate. My Mom and I held each other and cried all night. It is so important that this comes out of Lukie. I honor and admire you as a father. Thank you for leading your son into healing. I love you, Brother!