Lucas is adjusting to his new normal. The first week after coming home from the hospital, he slept in my bed with me. When I transitioned him back to his bed, he adjusted very well. He started going to his new preschool on Feb. 4. While he had some initial apprehension, he has adjusted well. I am so proud of him.
We have developed a weekly schedule for him that I think helps him to feel a sense of order and predictability, which likely leads to some sense of safety. He goes to Bethany Preschool in Long Beach Monday through Friday. On Monday and Thursday evenings we join Midi's parents at their house for dinner. On Wednesdays I drop him off at his grandparents' house and he sleeps over. Fridays we have dubbed "Fun Friday". So far Fun Friday has included having the Hongs sleep over and video and popcorn night. Future Fun Fridays could include going to the Aquarium of the Pacific, driving out to Corona to spend the night at my sister's house, going to the Hong's house to sleep over, and going out to a movie. On Saturday mornings he has pancakes. In the afternoon we go to Baachan's house and he gets to play with his cousins and see the extended family. Sunday we go to church. He has also been seeing a counselor once a week. Joe Gevas, a friend and sometimes teacher of his Sunday school, usually comes to play with him once a week as well. Soon, he will start Tee-Ball and will have games Saturday mornings.
Grief for Lucas looks very different than it does for me. He does not often cry. There are times when he gets upset about something unrelated and starts to cry which then leads him to say "I miss mommy." So I think sadness in general is a trigger to thinking about his loss. When he sees me grieving, he does not enter into it with me. I think feeling the sadness is scary for him so he steers clear of it. It is times when I share happy memories with him that he jumps right in. For example, if I say, "Do you remember when you and Nathan used to wrestle?" or "Do you remember when Oh-ma used to lay down next to you and scratch your back?" then he will enter into the moment eagerly and share his own recollections. We have a special memory corner where we sometimes go to look at pictures or read books that the boys used to enjoy together.
There is one major change in the way he plays. There have been times when he has played with cars and made them crash into each other, almost recreating the scene of the tragedy. He also uses the word "die" or "dead" frequently in his play. I have learned that this is normal processing for a four year old. But at the same time, I have noticed that he has a very strong defense mechanism when he is asked specifically about how he feels - avoidance. Part of it is that he doesn't have the words to describe what he is feeling. But part of it is also a defense. As his parent, I hope that I can help him learn to deal with his problems well. Avoidance is such a common unhealthy defense mechanism. For some it leads to alcohol, for others video games, for others complete isolation and withdrawal from relationships. While Lucas' use of avoidance is completely understandable and maybe in some ways necessary, I hope I can help him so that it doesn't cripple his ability to deal with adversity throughout his life.
Though I am in no way a mental health professional, I would say that he is doing very well under the circumstances. His prognosis is very good.